Lithium metal is considered the ultimate anode material for future rechargeable batteries1,2, but the development of Li metal-based rechargeable batteries has achieved only limited success due to uncontrollable Li dendrite growth3–7. In a broad class of all-solid-state Li batteries, one approach to suppress Li dendrite growth has been the use of mechanically stiff solid electrolytes8,9. However, Li dendrites still grow through them10,11. Resolving this issue requires a fundamental understanding of the growth and associated electro-chemo-mechanical behaviour of Li dendrites. Here, we report in situ growth observation and stress measurement of individual Li whiskers, the primary Li dendrite morphologies12. We combine an atomic force microscope with an environmental transmission electron microscope in a novel experimental set-up. At room temperature, a submicrometre whisker grows under an applied voltage (overpotential) against the atomic force microscope tip, generating a growth stress up to 130 MPa; this value is substantially higher than the stresses previously reported for bulk13 and micrometre-sized Li14. The measured yield strength of Li whiskers under pure mechanical loading reaches as high as 244 MPa. Our results provide quantitative benchmarks for the design of Li dendrite growth suppression strategies in all-solid-state batteries.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atomic and Molecular Physics, and Optics
- Biomedical Engineering
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering