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Suppression of dendrite growth by cross-flow in microfluidics.


Formation of rough, dendritic deposits is a critical problem in metal electrodeposition processes and could occur in next-generation, rechargeable batteries that use metallic electrodes. Electroconvection, which originates from the coupling of the imposed electric field and a charged fluid near an electrode surface, is believed to be responsible for dendrite growth. However, few studies are performed at the scale of fidelity where root causes and effective strategies for controlling electroconvection and dendrite growth can be investigated in tandem. Using microfluidics, we showed that forced convection across the electrode surface (cross-flow) during electrodeposition reduced metal dendrite growth (97.7 to 99.4%) and delayed the onset of electroconvective instabilities. Our results highlighted the roles of forced convection in reducing dendrite growth and electroconvective instabilities and provided a route toward effective strategies for managing the consequences of instability in electrokinetics-based processes where electromigration dominates ion diffusion near electrodes.

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