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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Effect of initial state of lithium on the propensity for dendrite formation: A theoretical study

  • Author(s): Barai, P
  • Higa, K
  • Srinivasan, V
  • et al.

© 2016 The Electrochemical Society. All rights reserved. Mechanical constraints have been widely used experimentally to prevent the growth of dendrites within lithium metal. The only article known to the authors that tries to theoretically understand how mechanical forces prevent dendrite growth was published by Monroe and Newman [J. Electrochem. Soc., 150 (10) A1377 (2005)]. Based on the assumption that surface tension prevents the growth of interfacial roughness, Monroe and Newman considered pre-stressed conditions of the lithium electrodes. This scenario indicates that prevention of dendrite growth by mechanical means is only possible by using electrolytes with shear modulus at least two times larger than that of lithium metal. A different scenario of relaxed lithium metal (without any pre-existing surface stresses) has been considered in the present analysis. Deposition of lithium due to electrochemical reaction at the lithium/electrolyte interface induces compressive stress at the electrode, the electrolyte, and the newly deposited lithium metal. Present simulations indicate that during operation at low current densities, the scenario of relaxed lithium leads to no dendrites. Rather, the present study points to the importance of including the effect of current distribution to accurately capture the mechanical forces needed to prevent dendrite growth.

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