Solid State NMR and Pair Distribution Function Studies of Silicon Electrodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries
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The universally used negative electrode material in a LIB is carbon, because of its moderate capacity (372 mAhg-1 for graphite), cyclability and high rate capability. However, new, low cost, safe electrode materials with higher capacities are still urgently required for both portable and transportation applications. Silicon anodes are particularly attractive alternatives to carbon with extremely high gravimetric energy densities (3572 mAhg-1). Compared to graphite, silicon has a massive volumetric capacity of 8322 mAhcm-3 (calculated based on the original volume of silicon) which is approximately ten times that graphite. At room temperature, upon electrochemical lithiation, silicon undergoes a crystalline to amorphous phase transition forming a lithiated amorphous silicide phase. Unfortunately, due to the amorphous nature of the lithiated silicides, it is not possible to monitor all the structural changes that occur during lithium insertion/removal with conventional methods such as diffraction. The short range order of the amorphous materials remains unknown, preventing attempts to optimize performance based on electrochemical-structure correlations. In this work, a combination of local structure probes, ex-situ 7Li nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) studies and pair distribution function (PDF) analysis of X-ray data was applied to investigate the changes in short range order that occur during the initial charge and discharge cycles. The distinct electrochemical profiles observed subsequent to the 1st discharge have been shown to be associated with the formation of distinct amorphous lithiated silicide structures. A (de)lithiation model consisting of four different mechanisms, each being valid for regions of the charge or discharge process is proposed to explain the hysteresis and the steps in the electrochemical profile observed during lithiation and delithiation of Si. A spontaneous reaction of the fully lithiated lithium silicide with the electrolyte is directly observed in the in situ NMR experiments; this mechanism results in self-discharge, and potentially capacity loss. The rate of this self-discharge process is much slower when CMC (carboxymethylcellulose) is used as the binder. Previous work has shown that the electrochemical performance of nanoparticulate crystalline silicon is different from the bulk. The lithiation and delithiation mechanisms of nano-Si for lithium ion batteries are studied by using ex-situ solid state MAS NMR and PDF analysis. The main differences vs. bulk lithiation and delithiation are identified by characterizing the amorphous phases formed.