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ACS Nano. 2013 Aug 27;7(8):7330-41. doi: 10.1021/nn403003b. Epub 2013 Jul 22.

Morphological evolution of carbon nanofibers encapsulating SnCo alloys and its effect on growth of the solid electrolyte interphase layer.

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Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, 291 Daehak-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-701, Republic of Korea.


Two distinctive one-dimensional (1-D) carbon nanofibers (CNFs) encapsulating irregularly and homogeneously segregated SnCo nanoparticles were synthesized via electrospinning of polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) and polyacrylonitrile (PAN) polymers containing Sn-Co acetate precursors and subsequent calcination in reducing atmosphere. CNFs synthesized with PVP, which undergoes structural degradation of the polymer during carbonization processes, exhibited irregular segregation of heterogeneous alloy particles composed of SnCo, Co3Sn2, and SnO with a size distribution of 30-100 nm. Large and exposed multiphase SnCo particles in PVP-driven amorphous CNFs (SnCo/PVP-CNFs) kept decomposing liquid electrolyte and were partly detached from CNFs during cycling, leading to a capacity fading at the earlier cycles. The closer study of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers formed on the CNFs reveals that the gradual growth of fiber radius due to continuous increment of SEI layer thickness led to capacity fading. In contrast, SnCo particles in PAN-driven CNFs (SnCo/PAN-CNFs) showed dramatically reduced crystallite sizes (<10 nm) of single phase SnCo nanoparticles which were entirely embedded in dense, semicrystalline, and highly conducting 1-D carbon matrix. The growth of SEI layer was limited and saturated during cycling. As a result, SnCo/PAN-CNFs showed much improved cyclability (97.9% capacity retention) and lower SEI layer thickness (86 nm) after 100 cycles compared to SnCo/PVP-CNFs (capacity retention, 71.9%; SEI layer thickness, 593 nm). This work verifies that the thermal behavior of carbon precursor is highly responsible for the growth mechanism of SEI layer accompanied with particles detachment and cyclability of alloy particle embedded CNFs.

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