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Single Nanostructure Electrochemical Devices for Studying Electronic Properties and Structural Changes in Lithiated Si Nanowires

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Abstract

Nanostructured Si is a promising anode material for the next generation of Li-ion batteries, but few studies have focused on the electrical properties of the Li-Si alloy phase, which are important for determining power capabilities and ensuring sufficient electrical conduction in the electrode structure. Here, we demonstrate an electrochemical device framework suitable for testing the electrical properties of single Si nanowires (NWs) at different lithiation states and correlating these properties with structural changes via transmission electron microscopy (TEM). We find that single Si NWs usually exhibit Ohmic I–V response in the lithiated state, with conductivities two to three orders of magnitude higher than in the delithiated state. After a number of sequential lithiation/delithiation cycles, the single NWs show similar conductivity after each lithiation step but show large variations in conductivity in the delithiated state. Finally, devices with groups of NWs in physical contact were fabricated, and structural changes in the NWs were observed after lithiation to investigate how the electrical resistance of NW junctions and the NWs themselves affect the lithiation behavior. The results suggest that electrical resistance of NW junctions can limit lithiation. Overall, this study shows the importance of investigating the electronic properties of individual components of a battery electrode (single nanostructures in this case) along with studying the nature of interactions within a collection of these component structures.

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