"Electrochemical generation of liquid and solid sulfur on two-dimensional layered materials with distinct areal capacities"

Ankun Yang: Guangmin Zhou, Xian Kong, Rafael A. Vilá, Allen Pei, Yecun Wu, Xiaoyun Yu, Xueli Zheng, Chun-Lan Wu, Bofei Liu, Hao Chen, Yan Xu, Di Chen, Yanxi Li, Sirine Fakra, Harold Y. Hwang, Jian Qin, Steven Chu & Yi Cui; Nature Nanotechnology, 01/27/20.

Additional Authors: Guangmin Zhou, Xian Kong, Rafael A. Vilá, Allen Pei, Yecun Wu, Xiaoyun Yu, Xueli Zheng, Chun-Lan Wu, Bofei Liu, Hao Chen, Yan Xu, Di Chen, Yanxi Li, Sirine Fakra, Harold Y. Hwang, Jian Qin, Steven Chu & Yi Cui

Abstract:

It has recently been shown that sulfur, a solid material in its elementary form S8, can stay in a supercooled state as liquid sulfur in an electrochemical cell. We establish that this newly discovered state could have implications for lithium–sulfur batteries. Here, through in situ studies of electrochemical sulfur generation, we show that liquid (supercooled) and solid elementary sulfur possess very different areal capacities over the same charging period. To control the physical state of sulfur, we studied its growth on two-dimensional layered materials. We found that on the basal plane, only liquid sulfur accumulates; by contrast, at the edge sites, liquid sulfur accumulates if the thickness of the two-dimensional material is small, whereas solid sulfur nucleates if the thickness is large (tens of nanometres). Correlating the sulfur states with their respective areal capacities, as well as controlling the growth of sulfur on two-dimensional materials, could provide insights for the design of future lithium–sulfur batteries.