"Balancing surface adsorption and diffusion of lithium-polysulfides on nonconductive oxides for lithium–sulfur battery design"

Xinyong Tao: Jianguo Wang, Chong Liu, Haotian Wang, Hongbin Yao, Guangyuan Zheng, Zhi Wei Seh, Qiuxia Cai, Weiyang Li, Guangmin Zhou, Chenxi Zu & Yi Cui; Nature Communications, 04/05/16.

Additional Authors: Jianguo Wang, Chong Liu, Haotian Wang, Hongbin Yao, Guangyuan Zheng, Zhi Wei Seh, Qiuxia Cai, Weiyang Li, Guangmin Zhou, Chenxi Zu & Yi Cui

Abstract:

Lithium–sulfur batteries have attracted attention due to their six-fold specific energy compared with conventional lithium-ion batteries. Dissolution of lithium polysulfides, volume expansion of sulfur and uncontrollable deposition of lithium sulfide are three of the main challenges for this technology. State-of-the-art sulfur cathodes based on metal-oxide nanostructures can suppress the shuttle-effect and enable controlled lithium sulfide deposition. However, a clear mechanistic understanding and corresponding selection criteria for the oxides are still lacking. Herein, various nonconductive metal-oxide nanoparticle-decorated carbon flakes are synthesized via a facile biotemplating method. The cathodes based on magnesium oxide, cerium oxide and lanthanum oxide show enhanced cycling performance. Adsorption experiments and theoretical calculations reveal that polysulfide capture by the oxides is via monolayered chemisorption. Moreover, we show that better surface diffusion leads to higher deposition efficiency of sulfide species on electrodes. Hence, oxide selection is proposed to balance optimization between sulfide-adsorption and diffusion on the oxides.