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Silicon-Boron Electrode to Increase Li-Ion Batteries’ Capacity

Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) have synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as a Lithium-ion battery electrode material. The new material is similar to the carbon atoms in diamond as the boron and silicon atoms in the novel lithium borosilicide (LiBSi2) are interconnected tetrahedrally.
Tetrahedral Boron Silicon Alloy Image. Click image for the largest view. Image credit: T. Fässler, Technische Universitaet Muenchen .

Tetrahedral Boron Silicon Alloy Image. Click image for the largest view. Image credit: T. Fässler, Technische Universitaet Muenchen .

The new material adds a new dimension as they form, making channels within the structure with many more sites where the lithium ions can locate. That suggests laptops could work longer and electric cars could drive farther with increases in the capacity of their lithium-ion batteries.

The electrode material has a decisive influence on a battery’s capacity. Today’s lithium ion negative electrode typically consists of graphite, whose layers can store lithium atoms. The scientists at (TUM) have developed a process to build a material made of boron and silicon that could enable systems with higher capacities.

Loading a lithium-ion battery produces lithium atoms that are taken up by the graphite layers of the negative electrode. However, the capacity of graphite is limited to one lithium atom per six carbon atoms. Silicon could take up to ten times more lithium. But unfortunately, its dimensions expand during this process – which leads to unsolved problems in battery applications.
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