What Is This

What is this?

What Is This

Journal of Materials Chemistry

UCSB scientists have developed a revolutionary new, biologically inspired method for the low temperature synthesis of semiconductors that can address the need for new materials that will radically transform the efficiencies of energy harnessing, transduction, storage and delivery.

They have developed a novel composite consisting of nanoparticles of tin uniformly dispersed throughout the compliant and conductive matrix of graphite microparticles. The result is a high-performance anode for lithium ion batteries with 30% higher electrical capacity (on a weight-basis; 50% higher capacity on a volume basis) and 10-fold higher power density than the currently used commercial anode of graphite alone, and with rock-solid stability, making it uniquely attractive for hybrid- and all-electric vehicles.

The UCSB team grows the tin nanoparticles catalytically, inside the pores of the graphite, thus achieving a more intimate marriage of the two materials, while retaining the valuable high crystallinity and porosity of the graphite (a fragile material, quickly destroyed by grinding).

The big advantage of this new composite, aside from its higher electrical capacity and high power (suitable for electric vehicles), is its excellent stability during multiple cycles of battery charging and discharging.

The UCSB team’s unique, kinetically controlled synthesis method is the key. Conventional processes used by industry today simply cannot make materials with the properties described above.

CREDIT: Zhang, H.-L. and D.E. Morse. 2009. Vapor-diffusion catalysis and in situ carbothermal reduction yields high performance Sn@C anode materials for lithium ion batteries. J. Mater. Chem. 19: 9006 – 9011.