Among the many studied Li-ion active materials, silicon presents the highest specific capacity, however it suffers from a great volume change during lithiation. In this work, we present two methods for the chemical modification of silicon nanoparticles. Both methods change the materials' electrochemical characteristics. The combined XPS and SEM results show that the properties of the generated silicon oxide layer depend on the modification procedure employed. Electrochemical characterization reveals that the formed oxide layers show different susceptibility to electro-reduction during the first lithiation. The single step oxidation procedure resulted in a thin and very stable oxide that acts as an artificial SEI layer during electrode operation. The removal of the native oxide prior to further reactions resulted in a very thick oxide layer formation. The created oxide layers (both thin and thick) greatly suppress the effect of silicon volume changes, which significantly reduces electrode degradation during cycling. Both modification techniques are relatively straightforward and scalable to an industrial level. The proposed modified materials reveal great applicability prospects in next generation Li-ion batteries due to their high specific capacity and remarkable cycling stability.
Keywords: Li-ion; cycle life; oxidation; silicon; silicon oxide.