High capacity, stable silicon/carbon anodes for lithium-ion batteries prepared using emulsion-templated directed assembly

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Silicon (Si) is a promising candidate for lithium ion battery anodes because of its high theoretical capacity. However, the large volume changes during lithiation/delithiation cycles result in pulverization of Si, leading to rapid fading of capacity. Here, we report a simple fabrication technique that is designed to overcome many of the limitations that deter more widespread adoption of Si based anodes. We confine Si nanoparticles in the oil phase of an oil-in-water emulsion stabilized by carbon black (CB). These CB nanoparticles are both oil- and water-wettable. The hydrophilic/hydrophobic balance for the CB nanoparticles also causes them to form a network in the continuous aqueous phase. Upon drying this emulsion on a current collector, the CB particles located at the surfaces of the emulsion droplets form mesoporous cages that loosely encapsulate the Si particles that were in the oil. The CB particles that were in the aqueous phase form a conducting network connected to the CB cages. The space within the cages allows for Si particle expansion without transmitting stresses to the surrounding carbon network. Half-cell experiments using this Si/CB anode architecture show a specific capacity of ∼1300 mAh/g Si + C and a Coulombic efficiency of 97.4% after 50 cycles. Emulsion-templating is a simple, inexpensive processing strategy that directs Si and conducts CB particles to desired spatial locations for superior performance of anodes in lithium ion batteries. © 2014 American Chemical Society.

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ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces