Strain-induced structural defects and their effects on the electrochemical performances of silicon core/germanium shell nanowire heterostructures†
We report on strain-induced structural defect formation in core Si nanowires of a Si/Ge core/shell nanowire heterostructure and the influence of the structural defects on the electrochemical performances in lithium-ion battery anodes based on Si/Ge core/shell nanowire heterostructures. The induced structural defects consisting of stacking faults and dislocations in the core Si nanowire were observed for the first time. The generation of stacking faults in the Si/Ge core/shell nanowire heterostructure is observed to prefer settling in either only the Ge shell region or in both the Ge shell and Si core regions and is associated with the increase of the shell volume fraction. The relaxation of the misfit strain in the  oriented core/shell nanowire heterostructure leads to subsequent gliding of Shockley partial dislocations, preferentially forming the twins. The observation of crossover of defect formation is of great importance for understanding heteroepitaxy in radial heterostructures at the nanoscale and for building three dimensional heterostructures for the various applications. Furthermore, the effect of the defect formation on the nanomaterial's functionality is investigated using electrochemical performance tests. The Si/Ge core/shell nanowire heterostructures enhance the gravimetric capacity of lithium ion battery anodes under fast charging/discharging rates compared to Si nanowires. However, the induced structural defects hamper lithiation of the Si/Ge core/shell nanowire heterostructure.