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Spring-Like Pseudoelectroelasticity of Monocrystalline Cu2S Nanowire


Prediction from the dual-phase nature of superionic conductors-both solid and liquid-like-is that mobile ions in the material may experience reversible extraction-reinsertion by an external electric field. However, this type of pseudoelectroelasticity has not been confirmed in situ, and no details on the microscopic mechanism are known. Here, we in situ monitor the pseudoelectroelasticity of monocrystalline Cu2S nanowires (NWs) using transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Specifically, we reveal the atomic scale details including phase transformation, migration and redox reactions of Cu+ ions, nucleation, growth, as well as spontaneous shrinking of Cu protrusion. Caterpillar-diffusion-dominated deformation is confirmed by the high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HRTEM) observation and  ab initio calculation, which can be driven by either an external electric field or chemical potential difference. The observed spring-like behavior was creatively adopted for electric nanoactuators. Our findings are crucial to elucidate the mechanism of pseudoelectroelasticity and could potentially stimulate in-depth research into electrochemical and nanoelectromechanical systems.

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