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Self-healing chemistry enables the stable operation of silicon microparticle anodes for high-energy lithium-ion batteries

Abstract

The ability to repair damage spontaneously, which is termed self-healing, is an important survival feature in nature because it increases the lifetime of most living creatures. This feature is highly desirable for rechargeable batteries because the lifetime of high-capacity electrodes, such as silicon anodes, is shortened by mechanical fractures generated during the cycling process. Here, inspired by nature, we apply self-healing chemistry to silicon microparticle (SiMP) anodes to overcome their short cycle-life. We show that anodes made from low-cost SiMPs (~3–8 µm), for which stable deep galvanostatic cycling was previously impossible, can now have an excellent cycle life when coated with a self-healing polymer. We attain a cycle life ten times longer than state-of-art anodes made from SiMPs and still retain a high capacity (up to ~3,000 mA h g−1). Cracks and damage in the coating during cycling can be healed spontaneously by the randomly branched hydrogen-bonding polymer used.

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Figure 1: Design and structure of the self-healing electrode.
Figure 2: Characterization of the self-healing composite material.
Figure 3: Electrochemical properties of SiMP electrodes.
Figure 4: Cycling properties of the self-healing SiMP electrode.
Figure 5: Structure of the self-healing SiMP electrode during electrochemical cycling.

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Acknowledgements

Y.C. and Z.B. acknowledge funding support from the Department of Energy, through the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory LDRD project, under contract DE-AC02-76SF00515, and from the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University.

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C.W., H.W., Y.C. and Z.B. conceived and designed the experiments. Y.C. and Z.B. directed the project. C.W. prepared the self-healing materials. H.W. and Z.C. performed the battery assembly and characterization experiments. All authors discussed and analysed the data. C.W., H.W. and M.T.M. co-wrote the first draft of the manuscript. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Yi Cui or Zhenan Bao.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Wang, C., Wu, H., Chen, Z. et al. Self-healing chemistry enables the stable operation of silicon microparticle anodes for high-energy lithium-ion batteries. Nature Chem 5, 1042–1048 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/nchem.1802

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