Light-Weight Free-Standing Carbon Nanotube-Silicon Films for Anodes of Lithium Ion Batteries

Li-Feng Cui, Liangbing Hu, Jang Wook Choi, Yi Cui

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516 Scopus citations


Silicon is an attractive alloy-type anode material because of its highest known capacity (4200 mAh/g). However, lithium insertion into and extraction from silicon are accompanied by a huge volume change, up to 300%, which induces a strong strain on silicon and causes pulverization and rapid capacity fading due to the loss of the electrical contact between part of silicon and current collector. Si nanostructures such as nanowires, which are chemically and electrically bonded to the current collector, can overcome the pulverization problem, however, the heavy metal current collectors in these systems are larger in weight than Si active material. Herein we report a novel anode structure free of heavy metal current collectors by integrating a flexible, conductive carbon nanotube (CNT) network into a Si anode. The composite film is free-standing and has a structure similar to the steel bar reinforced concrete, where the infiltrated CNT network functions as both mechanical support and electrical conductor and Si as a high capacity anode material for Li-ion battery. Such free-standing film has a low sheet resistance of ∼30 Ohm/sq. It shows a high specific charge storage capacity (∼2000 mAh/g) and a good cycling life, superior to pure sputtered-on silicon films with similar thicknesses. Scanning electron micrographs show that Si is still connected by the CNT network even when small breaking or cracks appear in the film after cycling. The film can also "ripple up" to release the strain of a large volume change during lithium intercalation. The conductive composite film can function as both anode active material and current collector. It offers ∼10 times improvement in specific capacity compared with widely used graphite/copper anode sheets. © 2010 American Chemical Society.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3671-3678
Number of pages8
JournalACS Nano
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2 2010
Externally publishedYes


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