"Catalytic oxidation of Li2S on the surface of metal sulfides for Li−S batteries"

Guangmin Zhou: Hongzhen Tian, Yang Jin, Xinyong Tao, Bofei Liu , Rufan Zhang, Zhi Wei Seh, Denys Zhuo, Yayuan Liu, Jie Sun, Jie Zhao, Chenxi Zu, David Sichen Wu, Qianfan Zhang, and Yi Cui; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 01/31/17.

Additional Authors: Hongzhen Tian, Yang Jin, Xinyong Tao, Bofei Liu , Rufan Zhang, Zhi Wei Seh, Denys Zhuo, Yayuan Liu, Jie Sun, Jie Zhao, Chenxi Zu, David Sichen Wu, Qianfan Zhang, and Yi Cui

Abstract:

Polysulfide binding and trapping to prevent dissolution into the electrolyte by a variety of materials has been well studied in Li−S batteries. Here we discover that some of those materials can play an important role as an activation catalyst to facilitate oxidation of the discharge product, Li2S, back to the charge product, sulfur. Combining theoretical calculations and experimental design, we select a series of metal sulfides as a model system to identify the key parameters in determining the energy barrier for Li2S oxidation and polysulfide adsorption. We demonstrate that the Li2S decomposition energy barrier is associated with the binding between isolated Li ions and the sulfur in sulfides; this is the main reason that sulfide materials can induce lower overpotential compared with commonly used carbon materials. Fundamental understanding of this reaction process is a crucial step toward rational design and screening of materials to achieve high reversible capacity and long cycle life in Li−S batteries.