Researchers at the University of California, Riverside have created a new silicon-tin nanocomposite anode that could lead to lithium-ion batteries.
Lithium-ion batteries, the most popular rechargeable batteries in personal electronics, are composed of three main parts: an anode, a cathode, and a lithium salt dissolved in an organic solvent. While graphite is the material of choice for most anodes, its performance is a limiting factor in making better batteries and expanding their applications.
Both silicon and tin have been investigated as novel high-performance alternatives for graphite anodes. In the current research, Mangolini’s group showed for the first time that combining both materials into a single composite leads to dramatic improvements in battery performance. In addition to tripling the charge capacity offered by graphite, the silicon-tin nanocomposite is extremely stable over many charge-discharge cycles, essentially extending its useful life. These features, coupled with a simple manufacturing process, could help the expansion of lithium-ion batteries for use in next-generation vehicles.
“Lithium-ion batteries are growing in popularity for electric vehicles and aerospace applications, but there is a clear need to alleviate range anxiety—the fear that a vehicle won’t have enough charge to reach its destination—before we will see large-scale adoption. Any technology that can help is welcome, as long as it is simple and scalable, and our technology meets both those criteria,” Mangolini said.