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Silicon nanostructures for synergetic applications in energy harvesting and storage (CHAOYU19SF)

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  • Full or part time
    Dr Y Chao
    Prof S Meech
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Self-Funded PhD Students Only
    Self-Funded PhD Students Only

Project Description

Silicon is an attractive material for anodes in energy storage devices, owing to ten times the theoretical capacity of its state-of-the-art carbonaceous counterpart and low working potential. Silicon anodes can be used in traditional Li-ion batteries, and in more recent Li-O2 and Li-S batteries.1 The three main challenges associated with silicon anodes are: (i) structural degradation and instability of the solid-electrolytle interphase caused by the large volume change during the cycling, (ii) the occurrence of side reactions with the electrolyte, and (iii) the low volumetric capacity when the material size is reduced to nanoscales. This PhD project is to design and synthesize novel silicon based nanostructures in order to overcome the main challenges for applications in energy harvesting and storage devices such as batteries.

The high specific capacity of Si is resulted from the microstructural changes and subsequent large volume change during the lithiation. However, this volume expansion is widely recognised as a negative feature of Si, and much effort has been made to minimize this side effect and subsequent pulverization by forming Si based composite materials with other active conducting materials, such as polymer based hard carbon, graphene, and carbon nanotubes, or by designing novel architectures to provide a buffering space.

Recently, piezoelectric materials, such as BaTiO3 nanoparticles, have been actively applied to energy conversion devices, for example, in Li-ion battery to improve the electrochemical performance by creating an electric field in response to mechanical stress and deformation.2 The characteristic volume expansion of silicon during the lithiation could act as an energy source via piezoelectric materials to generate an electric potential. The another feature of this project is to explore the synergetic effects of nanostructured Si and piezoelectric BaTiO3 nanoparticles.

For more information on the supervisor for this project, please go here:

Type of programme: PhD

Project start date: October 2019

Mode of study: Full time

Entry requirements: Acceptable first degree - Chemistry, Material Science, Physics.
The standard minimum entry requirement is 2:1.

Funding Notes

This PhD project is offered on a self-funding basis. It is open to applicants with funding or those applying to funding sources. Details of tuition fees can be found at

A bench fee is also payable on top of the tuition fee to cover specialist equipment or laboratory costs required for the research. The amount charged annually will vary considerably depending on the nature of the project and applicants should contact the primary supervisor for further information about the fee associated with the project.


i) Liu, N.; Lu, Z.; Zhao, J.; McDowell, M. T.; Lee, H.-W.; Zhao, W.; Cui, Y. A Pomegranate-Inspired Nanoscale Design for Large-Volume-Change Lithium Battery Anodes. Nat. Nanotechnol. 2014, 9 (3), 187–192.

ii) Lee, B. S.; Yoon, J.; Jung, C.; Kim, D. Y.; Jeon, S. Y.; Kim, K. H.; Park, J. H.; Park, H.; Lee, K. H.; Kang, Y. S.; Park, J. H.; Jung, H.; Yu, W. R.; Doo, S. G. Silicon/Carbon Nanotube/BaTiO3 Nanocomposite Anode: Evidence for Enhanced Lithium-Ion Mobility Induced by the Local Piezoelectric Potential. ACS Nano 2016, 10 (2), 2617–2627.

iii) Kim, H.; Lee, E.-J.; Sun, Y.-K., Recent Advances in the Si-Based Nanocomposite Materials as High Capacity Anode Materials for Lithium Ion Batteries. Mater. Today 2014, 17 (6), 285-297.

iv) Franco Gonzalez, A.; Yang, N.-H.; Liu, R.-S., Silicon Anode Design for Lithium-Ion Batteries: Progress and Perspectives. J. Phys. Chem. C 2017, 121 (50), 27775-27787.

v) Liu, Y.; Zhou, G.; Liu, K.; Cui, Y., Design of Complex Nanomaterials for Energy Storage: Past Success and Future Opportunity. Acc. Chem. Res. 2017, 50 (12), 2895-2905.

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