MMAE Seminar by Dr. Leon Shaw: Are Silicon Anodes Ready for Next-Generation Li-ion Batteries?

Armour College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical, Materials, and Aerospace Engineering will welcome Dr. Leon Shaw, Rowe Family Endowed Chair Professor in Sustainable Energy, Illinois Institute of Technology, to present a lecture, “Are Silicon Anodes Ready for Next-Generation Li-ion Batteries?”

The virtual seminar will take place on Wednesday, October 27, 2021, from 3:30–4:30 p.m. Contact Elena Magnus at for the seminar details and a link to join.

Silicon has played a critical role in the modern world economy, particularly through its prominent role in semiconductor industry. Silicon also has the potential to revolutionize energy storage industry because it is one of the most promising anode materials for next-generation Li-ion batteries (LIBs) owing to its very high theoretical capacity (3,590 mAh/g for Li15Si4 phase), which is about ten times that of the current graphite anode material (about 350 mAh/g). However, the practical applications of Si anodes are impeded by three major challenges: (i) large volume change (~400%) during lithiation/delithiation processes, (ii) low intrinsic electrical conductivity, and (iii) instability of the solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) at the electrode/electrolyte interface. In this presentation, I will highlight several approaches to overcome these challenges, including design of Si microstructure, addition of conducting agents, novel electrolytes, new binders, and proper charge/discharge protocols. In particular, I will highlight our novel synthesis method that can lead to hierarchical Si@void@C particles with three well-designed internal structures: (a) nanoscale Si building blocks to minimize the volume change per particle, (b) the engineered void space to accommodate the volume expansion of Si, and (c) a conductive carbon shell to improve electrical conductivity. This Si@void@C anode can provide high specific capacity (800 mAh/g) and ultrafast charge/discharge (at 8 A/g Si) with long cycle life (1000 cycles) at the same time. However, additional improvements are still needed for practical applications and will be discussed as well.

Dr. Leon Shaw is the Rowe Family Chair Professor for Sustainable Energy and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology. He is a leading scientist in nanomaterials synthesis, processing and microstructure control for energy storage and structural applications with more than 300 publications including over 210 archival-refereed journal articles and 10 chapters for various encyclopedia and handbooks. His recent research has focused on nanomaterials synthesis and processing for energy storage, particularly in the areas of lithium-ion, sodium-ion, and redox flow batteries as well as hydrogen storage materials. Prof. Shaw is a Member of EU Academy of Science, a Member of Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, a Fellow of ASM International, a Fellow of International Association of Advanced Materials, and a Fellow of the World Academy of Materials and Manufacturing Engineering.