Electrochemically driven functioning of a battery inevitably induces thermal and mechanical effects, which in turn couple with the electrochemical effect and collectively govern the performance of the battery. However, such a coupling effect, whether favorable or detrimental, has never been explicitly elucidated. Here we use in situ transmission electron microscopy to demonstrate such a coupling effect. We discover that thermally perturbating delithiated LiNi0.6Mn0.2Co0.2O2 will trigger explosive nucleation and propagation of intragranular cracks in the lattice, providing us a unique opportunity to directly visualize the cracking mechanism and dynamics. We reveal that thermal stress associated with electrochemically induced phase inhomogeneity and internal pressure resulting from oxygen release are the primary driving forces for intragranular cracking that resembles a "popcorn" fracture mechanism. The present work reveals that, for battery performance, the intricate coupling of electrochemical, thermal, and mechanical effects will surpass the superposition of individual effects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Physics and Astronomy(all)