Scientists at Rice University’s George R. Brown School of Engineering have developed a scalable method to improve the performance of silicon anode batteries. They have optimized a process called prelithiation, which involves coating silicon anodes with stabilized lithium metal particles (SLMPs) to mitigate the loss of lithium ions. The researchers found that spray-coating the anodes with a mixture of SLMPs and a surfactant improved battery life by 22% to 44%.
However, using a larger amount of the particle coating led to more lithium trapping and a faster fading of the battery. Silicon anodes have the potential to significantly increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries compared to graphite anodes. However, silicon anodes form a solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layer that consumes lithium and depletes the battery’s reserve. The prelithiation method developed by the researchers improves the stability of the SEI layer, resulting in a longer cycle life for the battery. The method can be easily integrated into existing battery manufacturing processes.