Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor

Iver E. Anderson

Second Advisor

Steve W. Martin


The advent and popularity of portable electronics, as well as the need to reduce carbon-based fuel dependence for environmental and economic reasons, has led to the search for higher energy density portable power storage methods. Lithium ion batteries offer the highest energy density of any portable energy storage technology, but their potential is limited by the currently used materials. Theoretical capacities of silicon (3580 mAh/g) and tin (990 mAh/g) are significantly higher than existing graphitic anodes (372 mAh/g). However, silicon and tin must be scaled down to the nano-level to mitigate the pulverization from drastic volume changes in the anode structure during lithium ion insertion/extraction.

The available synthesis techniques for silicon and tin nano-particles are complicated and scale-up is costly. A unique one-step process for synthesizing Si-Sn alloy and Sn nano-particles via spark plasma erosion has been developed to achieve the ideal nano-particulate size and carbon coating architecture. Spark erosion produces crystalline and amorphous spherical nano-particles, averaging 5-500nm in diameter. Several tin and silicon alloys have been spark eroded and thoroughly characterized using SEM, TEM, EDS, XPS, Auger spectroscopy, NMR spectroscopy and TGA. The resulting nano-particles show improved performance as anodes over commercialized materials. In particular, pure sparked Sn particles show stable reversible capacity at ~460 mAh/g with >99.5% coulombic efficiency for over 100 cycles. These particles are drop-in ready for existing commercial anode processing techniques and by only adding 10% of the sparked Sn particles the total current cell capacity will increase by ~13%.


Copyright Owner

Emma Marie Hamilton White



File Format


File Size

132 pages