Silicon is currently the most important semiconductor material, but its scope of application goes far beyond this. Researchers at the Northwest Pacific National Laboratory of the US Department of Energy have designed a novel nanostructure that can impart extraordinary strength to silicon, making it a promising anode material for lithium-ion batteries and an upgraded version of graphite. The researchers published a research report in the "Nature" newsletter, saying that their achievement is a leap forward in the development of silicon-based anodes for lithium-ion batteries and provides new ideas for the design of other types of battery materials.
For a long time, graphite has been a key component of lithium-ion batteries. This carbon is conductive and stable, and is very suitable for charging lithium ions into the anode of the battery during charging. But as the demand for higher energy density batteries continues to increase, graphite-based electrodes also need to be upgraded, and silicon is considered a good upgraded material. Compared with graphite, silicon can absorb more lithium, but the problem is that silicon will expand greatly when it encounters lithium, which may cause the anode cracking and powdering of lithium batteries.
To overcome the problem of silicon-based anode powdering, researchers at the Northwest Pacific National Laboratory designed a novel nanostructure. They aggregated fine silicon particles into microspheres with a diameter of about 8 microns to form a layered porous silicon structure equivalent to the size of red blood cells. This structure is like a sponge, with space inside to absorb expansion pressure. Studies have shown that this layered porous structure has excellent electrochemical performance, mechanical strength and structural integrity, and can be used in high-performance lithium-ion battery anodes, which can hold twice the charge of a typical graphite-based anode.
The researchers said that the nanostructures they designed not only meet the performance requirements of silicon-based anodes, but also apply to standard industrial processing procedures including calendering, which can provide new ideas for the design of other types of battery materials. In the next step, they will work hard to develop more scalable and economical silicon microsphere manufacturing methods for commercial application, and ultimately help improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles, electronic devices, and other devices.
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