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Ultrafast Electrochemical Lithiation of Individual Si Nanowire Anodes

Nano Letters, DOI: 10.1021/nl200412p

Using advanced in situ transmission electron microscopy, we show that the addition of a carbon coating combined with heavy doping leads to record-high charging rates in silicon nanowires. The carbon coating and phosphorus doping each resulted in a 2 to 3 orders of magnitude increase in electrical conductivity of the nanowires that, in turn, resulted in a 1 order of magnitude increase in charging rate. In addition, electrochemical solid-state amorphization (ESA) and inverse ESA were directly observed and characterized during a two-step phase transformation process during lithiation: crystalline silicon (Si) transforming to amorphous lithium-silicon (LixSi) which transforms to crystalline Li15Si4 (capacity 3579 mAh/g). The ultrafast charging rate is attributed to the nanoscale diffusion length and the improved electron and ion transport. These results provide important insight in how to use Si as a high energy density and high power density anode in lithium ion batteries for electrical vehicle and other electronic power source applications.

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