Nanowire-templated formation of SnO2/carbon nanotubes with enhanced lithium storage properties†
In this work, we have designed and synthesized SnO2 nanotubes wrapped by a porous carbon layer via a multistep method. Single-crystalline MnOx nanowires are employed as the template. SnO2 is grown on MnOx nanowires by a simple hydrothermal method to generate MnOx/SnO2 core–shell nanocables, followed by further coating with a layer of polydopamine. After carbonization of polydopamine and selective removal of MnOx nanowires, carbon coated SnO2 nanotubes are obtained. This structure combines several advantages. First, the internal empty space of the tubular structure can buffer the huge volume variation during lithium insertion–extraction processes properly, leading to improved cycling performance. Second, the nanosized SnO2 subunits and porous carbon coating not only shorten the distance for lithium ion diffusion but also offer large electrode–electrolyte contact area for fast Li+ crossing the interface, thus enabling improved rate capability. Third, the flexible carbon coating is closely covered onto the SnO2 nanocrystals, which could facilitate the electronic transport and also significantly mitigate the pulverization. As a result, the as-synthesized SnO2/C-NT nanocomposites exhibit a high reversible capacity of 596 mA h g−1 after 200 cycles, as well as an outstanding rate capability.