Towards reducing carbon content in silicon/carbon anodes for lithium ion batteries

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Conducting carbon is added to electrodes of lithium ion batteries (LIBs) to provide electrical conductivity. Because this carbon does not contribute to capacity, there is a drive towards decreasing its content with a goal of lowering the mass of the electrode. Reduced graphene oxide (RGO) has a high electrical conductivity, and is a potential alternative to traditionally used conductive carbon black (CB) in anodes for LIBs. Because of its high aspect ratio, RGO is expected to form a conducting network at lower volume loadings than CB. We report the use of this concept to significantly reduce carbon loading in silicon-carbon anodes for LIBs formed by emulsion-templating. Anodes with 1 wt% RGO and 14 wt% CB (15 wt% total carbon) showed specific capacities and capacity retentions that were comparable to anodes with 30 wt% CB with or without RGO. The capacity retention was significantly lower for anodes with 15 wt% total carbon that had no RGO. Cryo-SEM and SEM images, and electrochemical impedance spectroscopy, confirmed the formation of a conducting carbon network at 15 wt% total carbon loading when 1 wt% of the CB was replaced with RGO, and the lack of a well-connected network without the RGO.

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