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Silicon is a promising candidate to substitute or complement graphite as anode material in Li-ion batteries due, mainly, to its high energy density. However, the lithiation/delithiation processes of silicon particles are inherently related to drastic volume changes which, within a battery's physically constrained case, can induce significant deformation of the fundamental components of the battery that can eventually cause it to fail.

In this work, we use non-destructive time-lapse X-ray imaging techniques to study the coupled electrochemo-mechanical phenomena in Li-ion batteries. We present X-ray computed tomography data acquired at different times during the first lithiation of custom-built silicon-lithium battery cells.

Microstructural volume changes have been quantified using full 3D strain field measurements from digital volume correlation analysis. Furthermore, the extent of lithiation of silicon particles has been quantified in 3D from the grey-scale of the tomography images. Correlation of the volume expansion and grey-scale changes over the silicon-based electrode volume indicates that the process of lithiation is kinetically affected by the reaction at the Si/LixSi interface.

This article originally appeared in Journal of Power Sources320, 2016, Pages 196–203.

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