The conformation of poly(acrylic acid) (PAA) as a function of shear during slurry processing to construct silicon-based anodes is elucidated via rheology-coupled ultra-small-angle neutron scattering (rheo-USANS). Rheo-USANS shows that PAA with encapsulated silicon exists as discrete aggregates that do not interact with one another. As a result, a well-connected matrix of silicon and carbon black dispersed in PAA does not exist; thus, the electrode is inhomogeneous. Raman mapping and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy were used to confirm the electrode heterogeneity and further understand the cycling properties. These results are correlated to silicon surface chemistry to provide a pathway to making better electrodes.