Letter abstract

Nature Nanotechnology 3, 31 - 35 (2008)
Published online: 16 December 2007 | doi:10.1038/nnano.2007.411

Subject Category: Electronic properties and devices

High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires

Candace K. Chan1, Hailin Peng2, Gao Liu3, Kevin McIlwrath4, Xiao Feng Zhang4, Robert A. Huggins2 & Yi Cui2

There is great interest in developing rechargeable lithium batteries with higher energy capacity and longer cycle life for applications in portable electronic devices, electric vehicles and implantable medical devices1. Silicon is an attractive anode material for lithium batteries because it has a low discharge potential and the highest known theoretical charge capacity (4,200 mAh g-1; ref. 2). Although this is more than ten times higher than existing graphite anodes and much larger than various nitride and oxide materials3, 4, silicon anodes have limited applications5 because silicon's volume changes by 400% upon insertion and extraction of lithium which results in pulverization and capacity fading2. Here, we show that silicon nanowire battery electrodes circumvent these issues as they can accommodate large strain without pulverization, provide good electronic contact and conduction, and display short lithium insertion distances. We achieved the theoretical charge capacity for silicon anodes and maintained a discharge capacity close to 75% of this maximum, with little fading during cycling.

  1. Department of Chemistry, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA
  2. Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, Stanford, California 94305, USA
  3. Environmental Energy Technologies Division, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 1 Cyclotron Road, Mail Stop 70R108B, Berkeley, California 94720, USA
  4. Electron Microscope Division, Hitachi High Technologies America, Inc., 5100 Franklin Drive, Pleasanton, California 94588, USA

Correspondence to: Yi Cui2 e-mail: yicui@stanford.edu