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Keywords:

  • anodes;
  • germanium;
  • lithium-ion batteries;
  • silicon;
  • tin

Abstract

Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) represent the state-of-the-art technology in rechargeable energy-storage devices and they currently occupy the prime position in the marketplace for powering an increasingly diverse range of applications. However, the fast development of these applications has led to increasing demands being placed on advanced LIBs in terms of higher energy/power densities and longer life cycles. For LIBs to meet these requirements, researchers have focused on active electrode materials, owing to their crucial roles in the electrochemical performance of batteries. For anode materials, compounds based on Group IVA (Si, Ge, and Sn) elements represent one of the directions in the development of high-capacity anodes. Although these compounds have many significant advantages when used as anode materials for LIBs, there are still some critical problems to be solved before they can meet the high requirements for practical applications. In this Focus Review, we summarize a series of rational designs for Group IVA-based anode materials, in terms of their chemical compositions and structures, that could address these problems, that is, huge volume variations during cycling, unstable surfaces/interfaces, and invalidation of transport pathways for electrons upon cycling. These designs should at least include one of the following structural benefits: 1) Contain a sufficient number of voids to accommodate the volume variations during cycling; 2) adopt a “plum-pudding”-like structure to limit the volume variations during cycling; 3) facilitate an efficient and permanent transport pathway for electrons and lithium ions; or 4) show stable surfaces/interfaces to stabilize the in situ formed SEI layers.