Influence of Conductivity on the Capacity Retention of NiO Anodes in Li-ion Batteries

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The roles of conductivity and structure in the reversibility, rate capability, capacity and capacity retention of nickel oxide anodes for lithium-ion batteries were investigated. Conductivity was controlled by the systematic addition of non-intercalating carbon. The NiO nanostructure was controlled through four different preparation procedures. Overall, the top-performing electrodes were made from tetrahedral-shaped particles with a broad particle size distribution that were derived from a simple direct calcination of nickel nitrate salt. Capacity values >700 mA h/g after 100 cycles at 1C were observed, and a rate capability >400 mA h/g at 5C was achieved for electrodes with 40% carbon added. The addition of carbon universally improved anode performance by influencing the charge transferability, as evidenced by SEI peak shifts and reduced resistances seen via EIS. Reversibility was greatly enhanced as the conductivity was improved through carbon addition, which enabled otherwise inactive anode particles to maintain activity after many cycles. This work suggests that improved conductivity, as opposed to the conventional opinion regarding nanostructure, is the key to creating high performance anodes for next generation lithium-ion batteries.