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Rubber-like coating prolongs lithium battery life

05 Dec 2014

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The team discovered that, without the alucone coating, the oxide shell prevents silicon from expanding and limits how much lithium the particle can take in when a battery charges. At the same time, they found that the alucone coating softens the particles, making it easier for them to expand and shrink with lithium.

And the microscopic images revealed something else—the rubbery alucone replaces the hard oxide. That allows the silicon to expand and contract during charging and discharging, preventing fracturing.

"We were amazed that the oxide was removed," said Wang. "Normally it's hard to remove an oxide. You have to use acid to do that. But this molecular deposition method that coats the particles completely changed the protective layer."

In addition, the particles with the oxide shells tend to merge during charging, increasing their size and preventing lithium from permeating the silicon. The rubbery coating kept the particles separated, allowing them to function optimally.


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