Growth of linked silicon/carbon nanospheres on copper substrate as integrated electrodes for Li-ion batteries
We report the growth of linked silicon/carbon (Si/C) nanospheres on Cu substrate as an integrated anode for Li-ion batteries. The Si/C nanospheres were synthesized by a catalytic chemical vapor deposition (CCVD) on Cu substrate as current collector using methyltrichlorosilane as precursor, a cheap by-product of the organosilane industry. The samples were characterized by X-ray diffraction, transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, thermal gravimetry, Raman spectroscopy, nitrogen adsorption, inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectrometry, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy. It was found that the linked Si/C nanospheres with a diameter of 400–500 nm contain Si, CuxSi, and Cu nanocrystals, which are highly dispersed in the amorphous carbon nanospheres. A CCVD mechanism was tentatively proposed, in which the evaporated Cu atoms play a critical role to catalytically grown Si nanocrystals embedded within linked Si/C nanospheres. The electrochemical measurement shows that these Si/C nanospheres delivered a capacity of 998.9, 713.1, 320.6, and 817.8 mA h g−1 at 50, 200, 800, and 50 mA g−1 respectively after 50 cycles, much higher than that of commercial graphite anode. This is because the amorphous carbon, CuxSi, and Cu in the Si/C nanospheres could buffer the volume change of Si nanocrystals during the Li insertion and extraction reactions, thus hindering the cracking or crumbling of the electrode. Furthermore, the incorporation of conductive CuxSi and Cu nanocrystals and the integration of active electrode materials with Cu substrate may improve the electrical conductivity from the current collector to individual Si active particles, resulting in a remarkably enhanced reversible capacity and cycling stability. The work will be helpful in the fabrication of low cost binder-free Si/C anode materials for Li-ion batteries.