Using Nanostructured Materials to Develop Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries and Increase the Efficiency of Photovoltaic Cells.

Monday, 27 July 2015
Hall 2 (Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre)
J. Stewart and M. Alfredsson (School of Physical Sciences, University of Kent)
Renewable energy resources have become one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. One way to tackle the problem of the growing need for a low cost and environmentally friendly storage system is to invest and develop in new research. One solution is to build on the advancements of silicon solar cells and silicon electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries and to consider using nanostructured materials to develop hybrid functional energy materials. This research looks at the use of atomistic simulations to design silicon nanotubes and particles with an enhanced energy harvesting and storage properties. As for carbon, nanotubes with different structures and properties can be created by rolling a layer of graphene in different directions. For silicon, it is found that independent of the way the tubes are created they show metallic behaviour, as opposed to carbon nanotubes which demonstrate both semi-conducting as well as metallic properties. Contrary silicon nanoparticles are insulating in agreement with previous studies. This finding is important for applications in high energy density storage applications, where metallic silicon can be employed both as the anode and the cathode material. It could also improve the efficiency of photovoltaic cells.