Carbon-Coated Silicon Material: an Ideal Anode Material for Lithium Batteries

Problems Facing Silicon Carbon Material System

It has a theoretically very high capacity for lithium insertion, approximately ten times higher than carbon. Additionally, silicon has many advantages, including a low cost charging platform, abundant resources, and low costs. However, the silicon’s poor electronic conductivity and ionic conductivity will cause large volume changes of >400% during deintercalation. This can lead to the loss of electric contact and the rapid degradation of capacity. Additionally, silicon’s unstable solid electrolyte membrane interface (SEI) severely restricts its life span.

With the constant expansion and contractions of silicon, the SEI layer on the silicon surface becomes deformed. New SEI layers will then form. The SEI movie on the exposed silicon surface can gradually thicken and accumulate, which significantly reduces the active materials’ lithium insertion capability. The selection of small-sized silicon particles may be able to reduce material powdering or decrease attenuation. However nanoparticles can easily agglomerate, and they have no apparent effect on the thickness of the SEI films. Therefore, its electrochemical performance must be enhanced. The current silicon anode tech focuses on the problems of “volume expansion”, and “conductivity” in the charging and discharging process. The current trend in anode development is that carbon materials are essential for silicon anodes, both as buffer and conductive layers.
It is possible to improve the electrochemical performance by altering the manufacturing process as well as the morphology. The nanometerization process used for the fabrication of elemental silicon aniode materials can greatly increase the performance. To reduce production costs of nanosilicon materials and to stabilize silicon’s SEI films, many materials have high intrinsic conductivity that can be compounded with them. Carbon materials have the ability to improve conductivity and stabilize the SEI film at the anode’s surface.

Modern electronic devices require both energy density and life expectancy to be met by one carbon or another silicon material. It is easier to mix the carbon and silicon materials through different ways, due to their similar chemical characteristics. A composite of silicon and carbon material is able to combine their strengths and make up for any deficiencies. This creates a new material with a significant increase in gram density and cycle life.

Additionally, the goal of increasing the ionic conductivity rather than electronic conductivity is achieved by reducing the particles of electrode materials. As the particles are smaller, the path of diffusion for lithium ions is shorter. The lithium ion will be more able to take part in the electrochemical reactions during charge and discharge. Two main methods of improving electronic conductivity are available. The first is coating with conductive materials. The second is doping by producing mixed valence states to enhance the material’s intrinsic conductivity.

Carbon Coated Silicon Material

Researchers have created a strategy to utilize carbon to cover silicon to create a negative electrode for lithium battery cells. Research has shown that carbon coated silicon increases its ability to withstand high temperatures. These methods include CVD, Hydrothermal Method and Coating various carbon precursors with silicon particles. They prepared the array by using silicon plates as a metal catalyst and coated them with carbon using carbon aerogel. The nanocomposite has a discharge potential of up to 3,344mAh/g and a reversible power capacity of 1,326mAh/g after 40 cycles. Excellent electrochemical performance is possible due to the excellent electronic contact between silicon-carbon material and the conductivity of those materials. Also, the efficient inhibition of silicon’s volume expansion by carbon materials makes the material very conductive.

The Development Opportunities

This carbon-coated silica material is ideal for lithium batteries. It combines both the stability and conductivity of carbon with the benefits of silicon.

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