The high-energy lithium ion battery is an ideal power source for electric vehicles and grid-scale energy storage applications. Germanium is a promising anode material for lithium ion batteries due to its high specific capacity, but still suffers from poor cyclability. Here, we report a facile preparation of a germanium–graphene nanocomposite using a low-pressure thermal evaporation approach, by which crystalline germanium particles are uniformly deposited on graphene surfaces or embedded into graphene sheets. The nanocomposite exhibits a high Coulombic efficiency of 80.4% in the first cycle and a capacity retention of 84.9% after 400 full cycles in a half cell, along with high utilization of germanium in the composite and high rate capability. These outstanding properties are attributed to the monodisperse distribution of high-quality germanium particles in a flexible graphene framework. This preparation approach can be extended to other active elements that can be easily evaporated (e.g., sulfur, phosphorus) for the preparation of graphene-based composites for lithium ion battery applications.
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