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Novel Electrode Material Offers Alternative for Li-ion Batteries

Posted on: 06/10/2013
Scientists at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM), Germany, have developed a material made of boron and silicon that could smooth the way to systems with higher capacities. Further increasing the capacity of lithium-ion batteries could enable laptops to work longer and electric cars to drive farther, among many potential benefits.

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 greatly expands during this process, leading to problems in battery applications.

Looking for an alternative to pure silicon, the TUM scientists synthesized a novel framework structure consisting of boron and silicon, which could serve as an electrode material. Similar to the carbon atoms in diamond, the boron and silicon atoms in the novel lithium borosilicide (LiBSi2) are interconnected tetrahedrally. Unlike diamond, however, the material forms channels.

In a recent report on their research, the TUM scientists note that open structures with channels offer, in principle, the possibility to store and release lithium atoms. This is an important requirement for a lithium-ion battery anode material.

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