Stanford University researchers have designed 'pomegranate'-inspired electrode to incorporate silicon nanoparticles bunched like seeds in a strong carbon rind, in a bid to prevail over several barriers in using silicon for future lithium-ion batteries.
Stanford and SLAC associate professor Yi Cui said that while a couple of challenges remain, this design brings closer to using silicon anodes in smaller, lighter and more powerful batteries for products like cell phones, tablets and electric cars.
"Experiments showed our pomegranate-inspired anode operates at 97 percent capacity even after 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging, which puts it well within the desired range for commercial operation," Cui said.
Researchers at Stanford University and the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory added that silicon anodes are capable of storing 10 times more power compared to graphite anodes, while weak silicon bulges and crumble during battery charging.
As part of the study, researchers made use of a method common in the oil, paint and cosmetic industries to group silicon yolk shells into clusters and then coated them with a second, thicker layer of carbon.
Further, lab experiments revealed that pomegranate anodes reported positive results when prepared in the thickness needed for commercial battery performance.
Researchers are currently working on to shorten the process and explore an economical source of silicon nanoparticles.
"To me it's very exciting to see how much progress we've made in the last seven or eight years, and how we have solved the problems one by one," Cui added.