Stable cycling of double-walled silicon nanotube battery anodes through solid–electrolyte interphase control


Although the performance of lithium ion-batteries continues to improve, their energy density and cycle life remain insufficient for applications in consumer electronics, transport and large-scale renewable energy storage1,2,3,4,5. Silicon has a large charge storage capacity and this makes it an attractive anode material, but pulverization during cycling and an unstable solid–electrolyte interphase has limited the cycle life of silicon anodes to hundreds of cycles6,7,8,9,10,11. Here, we show that anodes consisting of an active silicon nanotube surrounded by an ion-permeable silicon oxide shell can cycle over 6,000 times in half cells while retaining more than 85% of their initial capacity. The outer surface of the silicon nanotube is prevented from expansion by the oxide shell, and the expanding inner surface is not exposed to the electrolyte, resulting in a stable solid–electrolyte interphase. Batteries containing these double-walled silicon nanotube anodes exhibit charge capacities approximately eight times larger than conventional carbon anodes and charging rates of up to 20C (a rate of 1C corresponds to complete charge or discharge in one hour).

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Figure 1: Schematic of SEI formation on silicon surfaces.
Figure 2: Fabrication and characterization of DWSiNTs.
Figure 3: SEI formation on silicon electrodes with different nanostructures.
Figure 4: Electrochemical characteristics of DWSiNTs tested between 1 V and 0.01 V.


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This work was partially supported by the Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Office of Vehicle Technologies of the US Department of Energy (contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231), and the Batteries for Advanced Transportation Technologies (BATT) Program (subcontract no. 6951379). This work is also partially supported by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory LDRD project. Y.C. acknowledges support from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Investigator Award (no. KUS-l1-001-12). G.C. acknowledges support from the Agency of Science, Technology and Research Singapore (A*STAR) National Science Scholarship. M.T.M. acknowledges support from the Stanford Graduate Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and the National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship.

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H.W. and Y.C. conceived the idea. H.W., G.C. and Y.Y. carried out materials fabrication and electrochemical tests. J.W.C. and M.T.M. performed TEM measurements. I.R. and H.W. designed and carried out the simulations and analysed data. A.J performed Auger measurements. H.W. and Y.C. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Yi Cui.

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Wu, H., Chan, G., Choi, J. et al. Stable cycling of double-walled silicon nanotube battery anodes through solid–electrolyte interphase control. Nature Nanotech 7, 310–315 (2012).

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