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Improving lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale research

Collaboration between UC San Diego and the National Labs could lead to new battery architectures

New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium-ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. The researchers created nanowires that block diffusion of lithium (Li) across their silicon surface and promote layer-by-layer axial lithiation of the nanowire’s germanium core.

Shadi Dayeh, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, explained that this work could lead to “an effective way to tailor volume expansion of lithium ion battery electrodes which could potentially minimize their cracking, improve their durability, and perhaps influence how one could think about different electrode architectures.”

The research was published in the journal Nano Letters in the paper “Tailoring Lithiation Behavior by Interface and Bandgap Engineering at the Nanoscale.”

By coating germanium nanowires with silicon, the researchers stopped nearly all surface diffusion of lithium ions into the nanowires. Instead, lithium diffusion, known as lithiation, occurred layer by layer along the axis of the nanowire. This is in contrast to lithiation from the surface of nanowires not covered with silicon.
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