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High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires


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.

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Figure 1: Schematic of morphological changes that occur in Si during electrochemical cycling.
Figure 2: Electrochemical data for Si NW electrodes.
Figure 3: Morphology and electronic changes in Si NWs from reaction with Li.
Figure 4: Structural evolution of Si NWs during lithiation.


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We thank Dr Marshall for help with TEM interpretation and Professors Brongersma and Clemens for technical help. Y.C. acknowledges support from the Stanford New Faculty Startup Fund and Global Climate and Energy Projects. C.K.C. acknowledges support from a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and Stanford Graduate Fellowship.

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Authors and Affiliations



C.K.C. conceived and carried out the experiment and data analysis. H.P., G.L., K.M. and X.F.Z. assisted in experimental work. R.A.H. carried out data analysis. Y.C. conceived the experiment and carried out data analysis. C.K.C., R.A.H. and Y.C. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Yi Cui.

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Supplementary methods and supplementary figures S1–S5 (PDF 331 kb)

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Chan, C., Peng, H., Liu, G. et al. High-performance lithium battery anodes using silicon nanowires. Nature Nanotech 3, 31–35 (2008).

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