Carbon-coated SnO2nanowires (NWs) were fabricated and applied as electrode to study the lithiation process using in situ transmission electron microscopy. A critical coating thickness (9 nm) was found, above which the carbon coating is able to constrain the lithiation- induced expansion of SnO2core without failure. Theoretical modeling and numerical simulation were performed and revealed that such thickness-dependent fracture can be attributed to the thickness-dependent maximum stress developed in the carbon coating during the lithiation of SnO2core. Our work provides direct evidence of the mechanical robustness of thick carbon coating and offers a minimum thickness of carbon coating for constraining the deformation of anode materials with large lithiation-induced volume change.
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