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In Situ Observation of Sodium Dendrite Growth and Concurrent Mechanical Property Measurements Using an Environmental Transmission Electron Microscopy–Atomic Force Microscopy (ETEM-AFM) Platform

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posted on 20.07.2020 by Qiunan Liu, Liqiang Zhang, Haiming Sun, Lin Geng, Yanshuai Li, Yushu Tang, Peng Jia, Zaifa Wang, Qiushi Dai, Tongde Shen, Yongfu Tang, Ting Zhu, Jianyu Huang
Akin to Li, Na deposits in a dendritic form to cause a short circuit in Na metal batteries. However, the growth mechanisms and related mechanical properties of Na dendrites remain largely unknown. Here we report real-time characterizations of Na dendrite growth with concurrent mechanical property measurements using an environmental transmission electron microscopy–atomic force microscopy (ETEM-AFM) platform. In situ electrochemical plating produces Na deposits stabilized with a thin Na2CO3 surface layer (referred to as Na dendrites). These Na dendrites have characteristic dimensions of a few hundred nanometers and exhibit different morphologies, including nanorods, polyhedral nanocrystals, and nanospheres. In situ mechanical measurements show that the compressive and tensile strengths of Na dendrites with a Na2CO3 surface layer vary from 36 to >203 MPa, which are much larger than those of bulk Na. In situ growth of Na dendrites under the combined overpotential and mechanical confinement can generate high stress in these Na deposits. These results provide new baseline data on the electrochemical and mechanical behavior of Na dendrites, which have implications for the development of Na metal batteries toward practical energy-storage applications.

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