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Promises and challenges of nanomaterials for lithium-based rechargeable batteries


Tremendous progress has been made in the development of lithium-based rechargeable batteries in recent decades. Discoveries of new electrode materials as well as new storage mechanisms have substantially improved battery performance. In particular, nanomaterials design has emerged as a promising solution to tackle many fundamental problems in conventional battery materials. Here we discuss in detail several key issues in batteries, such as electrode volume change, solid–electrolyte interphase formation, electron and ion transport, and electrode atom/molecule movement, and then analyse the advantages presented by nanomaterials design. In addition, we discuss the challenges caused by using nanomaterials in batteries, including undesired parasitic reactions with electrolytes, low volumetric and areal energy density, and high costs from complex multi-step processing, and their possible solutions.

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Figure 1: Cracking and fracture of high-capacity active particles and electrodes over lithiation/delithiation cycling.
Figure 2: SEI formation on a silicon surface and various encapsulated nanostructures for stabilizing the SEI.
Figure 3: SEI formation on a lithium metal surface and various solutions for stabilizing the SEI.
Figure 4: Construction of nanostructured high-capacity electrodes with fast electron and ion transport rates.
Figure 5: Understanding of and solutions for the electrode atom/molecule movement.
Figure 6: Solutions for issues of high surface area and low tap density for nanomaterials.


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Y.C. acknowledges the support from the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Vehicle Technologies of the US Department of Energy under the Battery Materials Research (BMR) Program, and the support from the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences.

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Sun, Y., Liu, N. & Cui, Y. Promises and challenges of nanomaterials for lithium-based rechargeable batteries. Nat Energy 1, 16071 (2016).

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