Nanostructuring silicon and germanium for high capacity anodes in lithium ion batteries



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Colloidally synthesized silicon (Si) and germanium (Ge) were explored as high capacity anode materials in lithium ion batteries. a-Si:H particles were synthesized through the thermal decomposition of trisilane in supercritical n-hexane. Precise control over particle size and hydrogen content was demonstrated. Particles ranged in size from 240-1500 nm with hydrogen contents from 10-60 atomic%. Particles with low hydrogen content had some degree of local ordering and were easily crystallized during Raman spectroscopy. The as-synthesized particles did not perform well as an anode material due to low conductivity. Increasing surface conductivity led to enhanced lithiation potential. Cu nanoparticles were deposited on the surface of the a-Si:H particles through a hydrogen facilitated reduction of Cu salts. The resulting Cu coated particles had a lithiation capacity seven times that of pristine a-Si:H particles. Monophenylsilane (MPS) grown Si nanowire paper was annealed under forming gas to reduce a polyphenylsilane shell into conductive carbon. The resulting paper required no binder or carbon additive and achieved capacities of 804 mA h/g vs 8 mA h/g for unannealed wires. Si and Ge heterostructures were explored to take advantage of the higher inherent conductivity of Ge. Ge nanowires were successfully coated with a-Si by thermal decomposition of trisilane on their surface, forming Ge@a-Si core shell structures. The capacity increased with increasing Si loading. The peak lithiation capacity was 1850 mA h/g after 20 cycles – higher than the theoretical capacity of pure Ge. MPS additives created a thin amorphous shell on the wire surfaces. By incubating the wires after MPS addition the shell was partially reduced, conductivity increased, and a 75% increase in lithiation capacity was observed for the nanowire paper. The syntheses of Bi and Au nanoparticles were also explored. Highly monodisperse Bi nanocrystals were produced with size control from 6-18 nm. The Bi was utilized as seeds for the SLS synthesis of Ge nanorods and copper indium diselenide (CuInSe2) nanowires. Sub 2 nm Au nanocrystals were synthesized. A SQUID magnetometer probed their magnetic behavior. Though bulk Au is diamagnetic, the Au particles were paramagnetic. Magnetic susceptibility increased with decreasing particle diameter.