A high-performance Si/carbon/graphite composite in which Si nanoparticles are attached onto the surface of natural graphite by carbonization of coal-tar pitch is proposed for use in lithium-ion batteries. This multicomponent structure is favorable for improving Li(+) storage capability because the amorphous carbon layer encapsulating Si nanoparticles offers sufficient electric conductivity and strong elasticity to facilitate relaxation of strain caused by electrochemical reaction of Si during cycles. The Si/carbon/graphite composite exhibits a specific capacity of 712 mAh g(-1) at a constant current density of 130 mA g(-1), and maintains more than 80% of its initial capacity after 100 cycles. Moreover, it shows a high capacity retention of approximately 88% even at a high current density of 5 C (3250 mA g(-1)). On the basis of electrochemical and structural analyses, we suggest that a rational design of the Si/carbon/graphite composite is mainly responsible for delivering a high reversible capacity and stable cycle performance. Furthermore, the proposed synthetic route for the Si/carbon/graphite composite is simple and cost-effective for mass production.
Keywords: Li-ion batteries; anode; composite; electrochemistry; silicon.