High energy lithium ion batteries are in demand for consumer electronics, electric-drive vehicles and grid-scale stationary energy storage. Si is of great interest since it has 10 times higher specific capacity than traditional carbon anodes. However, the poor cyclability due to the large volume change of Si upon insertion and extraction of lithium has been an impediment to its deployment.

This review outlines three fundamental materials challenges associated with large volume change, and then shows how nanostructured materials design can successfully address these challenges. There have been three generations of nanostructure design, encompassing solid nanostructures such as nanowires, hollow nanostructures, and clamped hollow structures.

The nanoscale design principles developed for Si can also be extended to other battery materials that undergo large volume changes.

This article originally appeared in Nano Today 7, 2012, Pages 414–429.