Atomic-scale factors that control the rate capability of nanostructured amorphous Si for high-energy-density batteries
- Author(s): Artrith, Nongnuch;
- Urban, Alexander;
- Wang, Yan;
- Ceder, Gerbrand
- et al.
Nanostructured Si is the most promising high-capacity anode material to substantially increase the energy density of Li-ion batteries. Among the remaining challenges is its low rate capability as compared to conventional materials. To understand better what controls the diffusion of Li in the amorphous Li-Si alloy, we use a novel machine-learning potential trained on more than 40,000 ab-initio calculations and nanosecond-scale molecular dynamics simulations, to visualize for the first time the delithiation of entire LiSi nanoparticles. Our results show that the Si host is not static but undergoes a dynamic rearrangement from isolated atoms, to chains, and clusters, with the Li diffusion strongly governed by this Si rearrangement. We find that the Li diffusivity is highest when Si segregates into clusters, so that Li diffusion proceeds via hopping between the Si clusters. The average size of Si clusters and the concentration range over which Si clustering occurs can thus function as design criteria for the development of rate-improved anodes based on modified Si.