Design of resilient silicon-carbon nanocomposite anodes
Hertzberg, Benjamin Joseph
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Si-based anodes have recently received considerable attention for use in Li-ion batteries, due to their extremely high specific capacity - an order of magnitude beyond that offered by conventional graphite anode materials. However, during the lithiation process, Si-based anodes undergo extreme increases in volume, potentially by more than 300 %. The stresses produced within the electrode by these volume changes can damage the electrode binder, the active Si particles and the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI), causing the electrode to rapidly fail and lose capacity. These problems can be overcome by producing new anode materials incorporating both Si and C, which may offer a favorable combination of the best properties of both materials, and which can be designed with internal porosity, thereby buffering the high strains produced during battery charge and discharge with minimal overall volume changes. However, in order to develop useful anode materials, we must gain a thorough understanding of the structural, microstructural and chemical changes occurring within the electrode during the lithiation and delithiation process, and we must develop new processes for synthesizing composite anode particles which can survive the extreme strains produced during lithium intercalation of Si and exhibit no volume changes in spite of the volume changes in Si. In this work we have developed several novel synthesis processes for producing internally porous Si-C nanocomposite anode materials for Li-ion batteries. These nanocomposites possess excellent specific capacity, Coulombic efficiency, cycle lifetime, and rate capability. We have also investigated the influence of a range of different parameters on the electrochemical performance of these materials, including pore size and shape, carbon and silicon film thickness and microstructure, and binder chemistry.