"Sulfur Cathodes with Hydrogen Reduced Titanium Dioxide Inverse Opal Structure"

Zheng Liang: Guangyuan Zheng, Weiyang Li, Zhi Wei Seh, Hongbin Yao, Kai Yan, Desheng Kong, and Yi Cui; ACS Nanoletters, 04/26/14.

Additional Authors: Guangyuan Zheng, Weiyang Li, Zhi Wei Seh, Hongbin Yao, Kai Yan, Desheng Kong, and Yi Cui

Abstract:

Sulfur is a cathode material for lithium-ion batteries with a high specific capacity of 1675 mAh/g. The rapid capacity fading, however, presents a significant challenge for the practical application of sulfur cathodes. Two major approaches that have been developed to improve the sulfur cathode performance include (a) fabricating nanostructured conductive matrix to physically encapsulate sulfur and (b) engineering chemical modification to enhance binding with polysulfides and, thus, to reduce their dissolution. Here, we report a three-dimensional (3D) electrode structure to achieve both sulfur physical encapsulation and polysulfides binding simultaneously. The electrode is based on hydrogen reduced TiO2 with an inverse opal structure that is highly conductive and robust toward electrochemical cycling. The relatively enclosed 3D structure provides an ideal architecture for sulfur and polysulfides confinement. The openings at the top surface allow sulfur infusion into the inverse opal structure. In addition, chemical tuning of the TiO2 composition through hydrogen reduction was shown to enhance the specific capacity and cyclability of the cathode. With such TiO2 encapsulated sulfur structure, the sulfur cathode could deliver a high specific capacity of 1100 mAh/g in the beginning, with a reversible capacity of 890 mAh/g after 200 cycles of charge/discharge at a C/5 rate. The Coulombic efficiency was also maintained at around 99.5% during cycling. The results showed that inverse opal structure of hydrogen reduced TiO2 represents an effective strategy in improving lithium sulfur batteries performance.