3D Imaging of Lithium Protrusions in Solid-State Lithium Batteries using X-Ray Computed Tomography

Shuai Hao, Josh J. Bailey, Francesco Iacoviello, Junfu Bu, Patrick S. Grant, Dan J.L. Brett, Paul R. Shearing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Solid-state lithium batteries will revolutionize the lithium-ion battery and energy storage applications if certain key challenges can be resolved. The formation of lithium-protrusions (dendrites) that can cause catastrophic short-circuiting is one of the main obstacles, and progresses by a mechanism that is not yet fully understood. By utilizing X-ray computed tomography with nanoscale resolution, the 3D morphology of lithium protrusions inside short-circuited solid electrolytes has been obtained for the first time. Distinguishable from adjacent voids, lithium protrusions partially filled cracks that tended to propagate intergranularly through the solid electrolyte, forming a large waved plane in the shape of the grain boundaries. Occasionally, the lithium protrusions bifurcate into flat planes in a transgranular mode. Within the cracks themselves, lithium protrusions are preferentially located in regions of relatively low curvature. The crack volume filled with lithium in two samples is 82.0% and 83.1%, even though they have distinctly different relative densities. Pre-existing pores in the solid electrolyte, as a consequence of fabrication, can also be part-filled with lithium, but do not have a significant influence on the crack path. The crack/lithium-protrusion behavior qualitatively supports a model of propagation combining electrochemical and mechanical effects.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2007564
Number of pages9
JournalAdvanced Functional Materials
Issue number10
Early online date11 Dec 2020
Publication statusPublished - 03 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors acknowledge the financial support from the Faraday Institution All‐Solid‐State Batteries with Li Anode (EP/S003053/1, FIRG007) and the EPSRC (EP/P009050/1); P.R.S. acknowledges the support of The Royal Academy of Engineering (CIET178/59). FIB‐SEM experiments were carried out at the Research Complex at Harwell, UK.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Wiley-VCH GmbH

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • crack
  • lithium protrusions
  • morphology
  • solid-state batteries
  • X-ray computed tomography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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