A novel graphene and silicon nano-particle hybrid anode material for Li-ion batteries

This PhD project is based at the University of Manchester with a 12 month stay at University of Melbourne.

Project Description:

Graphene, the monolayer carbon first isolated in Manchester, has a unique combination of many superlative properties that makes it an ideal batter electrode material. Briefly, graphene possesses high strength combined with flexibility, high electrical conductivity, high thermal conductivity and high specific surface area. Graphene is currently being explored for a number of different kinds of battery and supercapacitor electrodes, including for novel batteries such as Li-S and Li-Air batteries.

A Li-silicon battery is a sub-class of Li-ion battery which uses silicon as anode material for Li ion charge carriers. They have higher specific capacity compared to graphite, which is the traditional electrode material, however has the disadvantage of a large volume change compared to graphite as well as poorer electrical conductivity. One strategy to improve the specific capacity of Si anodes even further while accommodating the volume expansion is to use silicon nano-particles and nano-wires. Furthermore, a hybrid anode of graphite and Si nano-particles can further improve both the volume expansion, conductivity and capacity of a Si anode.

In this project, we propose that a hybrid anode comprised of graphene and silicon nanoparticles will achieve the most intimate blend of these two promising anode materials, maximising the benefits of each and the synergy between the two.

A student eligible for this project will have a degree in materials science, chemistry, chemical engineering or equivalent. During the course of the project, the student will gain expertise in production of graphene materials such as graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide, characterisation of graphene materials by electron microscopy, Raman spectroscopy, scanning probe microscopy, thermal stability and degradation, etc, and routes to graphene functionalisation. The student will also gain expertise in Li-chemistry batteries, anode materials, electro-chemical characterisation and battery assembly and characterisation.

The student will spend 30 months at the University of Manchester, working in the Nanofunctional Materials Group, which has world-leading expertise in graphene materials and composites production, characterisation and applications. The student will also spend 12 months of their PhD at the University of Melbourne in the Ellis group, where they will interact with world leading experts in Li-Si batteries and other energy storage materials and systems.

Supervision team:

Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan, Dr Patricia Gorgojo (University of Manchester)

Prof Amanda Ellis, Dr Eirini Goudeli (University of Melbourne)