– Micro-pizzas –
Department – Materials Science & Engineering (Graduate Student) –
Research Field – Energy Storage Devices –
How image was captured – SEM –
Research Impact & Significance – What do you think of at first glance of this picture? When I was doing the Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), I knew I was looking at two micron-sized particles of lithium (Li) fused together, but I somehow was imagining halves of two large pizzas placed together in front of me ‒ a beautiful combination of the art of food and the art of science, made possible by the microscopic imaging technique. This made the “painstaking” SEM much more fun.
My research is building high-capacity silicon nanoparticles (SiNPs)-based electrodes for Li-ion batteries (LIBs). We are using an approach of pre-lithiation through a special form of Li metal ‒ stabilized Li metal powder (SLMP) ‒ to compensate for the first cycle capacity loss of the electrodes. The two micro-pizzas in this image are two of the SLMP particles under study by SEM, so as to better understand the interactions among SLMP particles as well as between SLMP and the electrode material. Our pre-lithiated Si-based electrodes achieve specific capacities ten times higher than the commercial graphite electrodes. This is promising for future high-energy LIBs for clean energy applications such as electric vehicles (EVs), which are in demand to combat climate change.