Improving lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale research

Sep 30, 2013
Improving lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale research
TEM image of a Silicon / Germanium nanowire.

New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium (Li) ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. The researchers have presented nanowires that block diffusion of lithium across the wire's silicon surface and promote layer-by-layer axial lithiation of the nanowire's germanium core.

Shadi Dayeh, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, explained that this work could lead to "an effective way to tailor volume expansion of electrodes which could potentially minimize their cracking, improve their durability, and perhaps influence how one could think about different electrode architectures."

The research was recently published in the journal Nano Letters in the paper "Tailoring Lithiation Behavior by Interface and Bandgap Engineering at the Nanoscale."

By coating germanium nanowires with silicon, the researchers stopped nearly all surface diffusion of lithium ions into the nanowires. Instead, lithium diffusion, known as lithiation, occurred layer by layer along the axis of the nanowire in contrast to that from the surface of the nanowire which was not covered with silicon.

"These results demonstrate for the first time that interface and bandgap engineering of electrochemical reactions can be utilized to control the nanoscale ionic transport / insertion paths and thus may be a new tool to define the electrochemical reactions in Li-ion batteries," the researchers write in their Nano Letters paper.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Watch a video that shows the axial lithiation of a silicon-coated nanowire's germanium core, as well as radial diffusion of lithium into an uncoated germanium nanowire. Video is from Dayeh's Integrated Electronics and Bio-interfaces Lab at UC San Diegoand collaborators at Sandia National Laboratories.

Listen to an audio conversation with Shadi Dayeh on SoundCloud.

This work builds on research demonstrating excellent control over germanium / silicon (Ge/Si) heterostructuring, which Dayeh and colleagues recently published as a cover article in Applied Physics Letters and a cover letter in the journal Nano Letters.

Dayeh grew the nanowires during his time as a postdoctoral researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Lithiation experiments were performed by two postdoctoral researchers from Sandia National Laboratories, Drs. Yang Liu and Xiaohua Liu, and Dayeh's postdocdoral researchers working at LANL. Dayeh formulated the mechanism and performed the analysis and simulations after joining the faculty of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Departmentat the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering.

Funding sources for this research includes Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES), an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy,Los Alamos National Laboratory, SandiaNational Laboratories, and UC San Diego.

Explore further: Piezoelectricity in 2-D semiconductor holds promise for future MEMS

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

For better li-ion batteries, scientists watch one at work

Aug 30, 2013

(Phys.org) —Using x-rays at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS), a group of researchers has studied, in great detail, the nanoscale workings of a lithium-ion battery, learning new information about ...

Recommended for you

Chemically driven micro- and nanomotors

Dec 17, 2014

At least since the movie "The Fantastic Voyage" in 1966, in which a submarine is shrunk down and injected into the blood stream of a human, people have been toying with the idea of sending tiny "micromachines" ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

PPihkala
not rated yet Sep 30, 2013
"By coating germanium nanowires with silicon, the researchers stopped nearly all surface diffusion of lithium ions into the nanowires. Instead, lithium diffusion, known as lithiation, occurred layer by layer along the axis of the nanowire in contrast to that from the surface of the nanowire which was not covered with silicon."

If with this they mean that the ions only enter/exit from the end of nanowire, not radially at all of the length, they might have a long life battery, but it would have low power density, ie it would be slow to charge and discharge.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.