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Title: Enabling High-Rate Long-lifespan Lithium-Sulfur Batteries via Stereolithography Technique and Oxidative Chemical Vapor Deposition
Enhancing battery energy storage capability and reducing the cost per average energy capacity is urgent to satisfy the increasing energy demand in modern society. The lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery is especially attractive because of its high theoretical specific energy (around 2600 W h kg-1), low cost, and low toxicity.1 Despite these advantages, the practical utilization of lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries to date has been hindered by a series of obstacles, including low active material loading, shuttle effects, and sluggish sulfur conversion kinetics.2 The traditional 2D planer thick electrode is considered as a general approach to enhance the mass loading of the Li-S battery.3 However, the longer diffusion length of lithium ions, which resulted in high tortuosity in the compact stacking thick electrode, decreases the penetration ability of the electrolyte into the entire cathode.4 Although an effort to induce catalysts in the cathode was made to promote sulfur conversion kinetic conditions, catalysts based on transition metals suffered from the low electronic conductivity, and some elements (i.e.: Co, Mn) may even absorb and restrict polysulfides for further reaction. 5 To mitigate the issues listed above, herein we propose a novel sulfur cathode design strategy enabled by additive manufacturing and oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD). 6,7 Specifically, more » the cathode is designed to have a hierarchal hollow structure via a stereolithography technique to increase sulfur usage. Microchannels are constructed on the tailored sulfur cathode to further fortify the wettability of the electrolyte. The as-printed cathode is then sintered at 700 °C in an N2 atmosphere in order to generate a carbon skeleton (i.e.: carbonization of resin) with intrinsic carbon defects. The intrinsic carbon defects are expected to create favorable sulfur conversion conditions with sufficient electronic conductivity. In this study, the oCVD technique is leveraged to produce a conformal coating layer to eliminate shuttle effects. Identified by scanning electron microscopy and energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy mapping characterizations, the oCVD PEDOT is not only covered on the surface of the cathode but also on the inner surface of the microchannels. High-resolution x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses (C 1s and S 2p orbitals) between pristine and modified samples demonstrate that a high concentration of the defects has been produced on the sulfur matrix after sintering and posttreatment. In-operando XRD diffractograms show that the Li2S is generated in the oCVD PEDOT-coated sample during the charge and discharge process even with a high current density, confirming an eminent sulfur conversion kinetic condition. In addition, ICP-OES results of lithium metal anode at different states of charge (SoC) verify that the shuttle effects are excellently restricted by oCVD PEDOT. Overall, the high mass loading (> 5 mg cm-2) with an elevated sulfur utilization ratio, accelerated reaction kinetics and stabilized electrochemical process have been achieved on the sulfur cathode by implementing this innovative cathode design strategy. The results of this study demonstrate significant promises of employing pure sulfur powder with high electrochemical performance and suggest a pathway to the higher energy and power density battery. References: 1 Chen, Y. Adv Mater 33, e2003666. 2 Bhargav, A. Joule 4, 285-291. 3 Liu, S. Nano Energy 63, 103894. 4 Chu, T. Carbon Energy 3. 5 Li, Y. Matter 4, 1142-1188. 6 John P. Lock. Macromolecules 39, 4 (2006). 7 Zekoll, S. Energy & Environmental Science 11, 185-201. « less
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1931088
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10347753
Journal Name:
64th Electronic Materials Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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  1. It is urgent to enhance battery energy storage capability to satisfy the increasing energy demand in modern society and reduce the average energy capacity cost. Among the candidates for next-generation high energy storage systems, the lithium-sulfur battery is especially attractive because of its high theoretical specific energy (around 2600 W h kg-1) and cost savings potential.1 In addition to the high theoretical capacity of sulfur cathode as high as 1,673 mA h g-1, sulfur is further appealing due to its abundance in nature, low cost, and low toxicity. Despite these advantages, the application of sulfur cathodes to date has been hindered by a number of obstacles, including low active material loading, low electronic conductivity, shuttle effects, and sluggish sulfur conversion kinetics.2 The traditional 2D planer thick electrode is considered as a general approach to enhance the mass loading of the lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery.3 However, the longer diffusion length of lithium ions required in the thick electrode decrease the wettability of the electrolyte (into the entire cathode) and utilization ratio of active materials.4 Encapsulating active sulfur in carbon hosts is another common method to improve the performance of sulfur cathodes by enhancing the electronic conductivity and restricting shuttle effects. Nevertheless, itmore »is also reported that the encapsulation approach causes unfavorable carbon agglomeration with low dimensional carbons and a low energy density of the battery with high dimensional carbons. Although an effort to induce defects in the cathode was made to promote sulfur conversion kinetic conditions, only one type of defect has demonstrated limited performance due to the strong adsorption of the uncatalyzed clusters to the defects (i.e.: catalyst poisoning). 5 To mitigate the issues listed above, herein we propose a novel sulfur electrode design strategy enabled by additive manufacturing and oxidative chemical vapor deposition (oCVD).6,7 Specifically, the electrode is designed to have a hierarchal hollow structure via a stereolithography technique to increase sulfur usage. Microchannels are constructed on the tailored sulfur cathode to further fortify the wettability of the electrolyte. The as-printed cathode is then sintered at 700 °C in a reducing atmosphere (e.g.: H2) in order to generate a carbon skeleton (i.e.: carbonization of resin) with intrinsic carbon defects. A cathode treatment with benzene sulfonic acid further induces additional defects (non-intrinsic) to enhance the sulfur conversion kinetic. Furthermore, intrinsic defects engineering is expected to synergistically create favorable sulfur conversion conditions and mitigate the catalyst poisoning issue. In this study, the oCVD technique is leveraged to produce a conformal coating layer to eliminate shuttle effects, unfavored in the Li-S battery performance. Identified by SEM and TEM characterizations, the oCVD PEDOT is not only covered on the surface of the cathode but also the inner surface of the microchannels. High resolution x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analyses (C 1s and S 2p orbitals) between pristine and modified sample demonstrate that the high concentration of the defects have been produced on the sulfur matrix after sintering and posttreatment. In-operando XRD diffractograms show that the Li2S is generated in the oCVD PEDOT-coated sample during the charge and discharge process even with a high current density, confirming an eminent sulfur conversion kinetic condition. In addition, ICP-OES results of lithium metal anode at different states of charge (SoC) verify that the shuttle effects are excellently restricted by oCVD PEDOT. Overall, the high mass loading (> 5 mg cm-2) with elevated sulfur utilization ratio, accelerated reaction kinetics, and stabilized electrochemical process have been achieved on the sulfur cathode by implementing this innovative cathode design strategy. The results of this study demonstrate significant promises of employing pure sulfur powder with high electrochemical performance and suggest a pathway to the higher energy and power density battery.« less
  2. Conventional lithium-ion batteries are unable to meet the increasing demands for high-energy storage systems, because of their limited theoretical capacity. 1 In recent years, intensive attention has been paid to enhancing battery energy storage capability to satisfy the increasing energy demand in modern society and reduce the average energy capacity cost. Among the candidates for next generation high energy storage systems, the lithium sulfur battery is especially attractive because of its high theoretical specific energy (around 2600 W h kg-1) and potential cost reduction. In addition, sulfur is a cost effective and environmentally friendly material due to its abundance and low-toxicity. 2 Despite all of these advantages, the practical application of lithium sulfur batteries to date has been hindered by a series of obstacles, including low active material loading, poor cycle life, and sluggish sulfur conversion kinetics. 3 Achieving high mass loading cathode in the traditional 2D planar thick electrode has been challenged. The high distorsion of the traditional planar thick electrodes for ion/electron transfer leads to the limited utilization of active materials and high resistance, which eventually results in restricted energy density and accelerated electrode failure. 4 Furthermore, of the electrolyte to pores in the cathode and utilization ratiomore »of active materials. Catalysts such as MnO 2 and Co dopants were employed to accelerate the sulfur conversion reaction during the charge and discharge process. 5 However, catalysts based on transition metals suffer from poor electronic conductivity. Other catalysts such as transition metal dopants are also limited due to the increased process complexities. . In addition, the severe shuttle effects in Li-S batteries may lead to fast failures of the battery. Constructing a protection layer on the separator for limiting the transmission of soluble polysulfides is considered an effective way to eliminate the shuttle phenomenon. However, the soluble sulfides still can largely dissolve around the cathode side causing the sluggish reaction condition for sulfur conversion. 5 To mitigate the issues above, herein we demonstrate a novel sulfur electrode design strategy enabled by additive manufacturing and oxidative vapor deposition (oCVD). Specifically, the electrode is strategically designed into a hierarchal hollow structure via stereolithography technique to increase sulfur usage. The active material concentration loaded to the battery cathode is controlled precisely during 3D printing by adjusting the number of printed layers. Owing to its freedom in geometry and structure, the suggested design is expected to improve the Li ions and electron transport rate considerably, and hence, the battery power density. The printed cathode is sintered at 700 °C at N 2 atmosphere to achieve carbonization of the cathode during which intrinsic carbon defects (e.g., pentagon carbon) as catalytic defect sites are in-situ generated on the cathode. The intrinsic carbon defects equipped with adequate electronic conductivity. The sintered 3D cathode is then transferred to the oCVD chamber for depositing a thin PEDOT layer as a protection layer to restrict dissolutions of sulfur compounds in the cathode. Density functional theory calculation reveals the electronic state variance between the structures with and without defects, the structure with defects demonstrates the higher kinetic condition for sulfur conversion. To further identify the favorable reaction dynamic process, the in-situ XRD is used to characterize the transformation between soluble and insoluble polysulfides, which is the main barrier in the charge and discharge process of Li-S batteries. The results show the oCVD coated 3D printed sulfur cathode exhibits a much higher kinetic process for sulfur conversion, which benefits from the highly tailored hierarchal hollow structure and the defects engineering on the cathode. Further, the oCVD coated 3D printed sulfur cathode also demonstrates higher stability during long cycling enabled by the oCVD PEDOT protection layer, which is verified by an absorption energy calculation of polysulfides at PEDOT. Such modeling and analysis help to elucidate the fundamental mechanisms that govern cathode performance and degradation in Li-S batteries. The current study also provides design strategies for the sulfur cathode as well as selection approaches to novel battery systems. References: Bhargav, A., (2020). Lithium-Sulfur Batteries: Attaining the Critical Metrics. Joule 4 , 285-291. Chung, S.-H., (2018). Progress on the Critical Parameters for Lithium–Sulfur Batteries to be Practically Viable. Advanced Functional Materials 28 , 1801188. Peng, H.-J.,(2017). Review on High-Loading and High-Energy Lithium–Sulfur Batteries. Advanced Energy Materials 7 , 1700260. Chu, T., (2021). 3D printing‐enabled advanced electrode architecture design. Carbon Energy 3 , 424-439. Shi, Z., (2021). Defect Engineering for Expediting Li–S Chemistry: Strategies, Mechanisms, and Perspectives. Advanced Energy Materials 11 . Figure 1« less
  3. In Li–S batteries, the insulating nature of sulfur and Li 2 S causes enormous challenges, such as high polarization and low active material utilization. The nucleation of the solid discharge product, Li 2 S, during the discharge cycle, and the activation of Li 2 S in the subsequent charge cycle, cause a potential challenge that needs to be overcome. Moreover, the shuttling of soluble lithium polysulfide intermediate species results in active material loss and early capacity fade. In this study, we have used thiourea as an electrolyte additive and showed that it serves as both a redox mediator to overcome the Li 2 S activation energy barrier and a shuttle inhibitor to mitigate the notorious polysulfide shuttling via the investigation of thiourea redox activity, shuttle current measurements and study of Li 2 S activation. The steady-state shuttle current of the Li–S battery shows a 6-fold drop when 0.02 M thiourea is added to the standard electrolyte. Moreover, by adding thiourea, the charge plateau for the first cycle of the Li 2 S based cathodes shifts from 3.5 V (standard ether electrolyte) to 2.5 V (with 0.2 M thiourea). Using this additive, the capacity of the Li–S battery stabilizes at ∼839more »mA h g −1 after 5 cycles and remains stable over 700 cycles with a low capacity decay rate of 0.025% per cycle, a tremendous improvement compared to the reference battery that retains only ∼350 mA h g −1 after 300 cycles. In the end, to demonstrate the practical and broad applicability of thiourea in overcoming sulfur-battery challenges and in eliminating the need for complex electrode design, we study two additional battery systems – lithium metal-free cells with a graphite anode and Li 2 S cathode, and Li–S cells with simple slurry-based cathodes fabricated via blending commercial carbon black/S and a binder. We believe that this study manifests the advantages of redox active electrolyte additives to overcome several bottlenecks in the Li–S battery field.« less
  4. Metal-ion batteries (e.g., lithium and sodium ion batteries) are the promising power sources for portable electronics, electric vehicles, and smart grids. Recent metal-ion batteries with organic liquid electrolytes still suffer from safety issues regarding inflammability and insufficient lifetime.1 As the next generation energy storage devices, all-solid-state batteries (ASSBs) have promising potentials for the improved safety, higher energy density, and longer cycle life than conventional Li-ion batteries.2 The nonflammable solid electrolytes (SEs), where only Li ions are mobile, could prevent battery combustion and explosion since the side reactions that cause safety issues as well as degradation of the battery performance are largely suppressed. However, their practical application is hampered by the high resistance arising at the solid–solid electrode–electrolyte interface (including cathode-electrolyte interface and anode-electrolyte interface).3 Several methods have been introduced to optimize the contact capability as well as the electrochemical/chemical stability between the metal anodes (i.e.: Li and Na) and the SEs, which exhibited decent results in decreasing the charge transfer resistance and broadening the range of the stable energy window (i.e., lowing the chemical potential of metal anode below the highest occupied molecular orbital of the SEs).4 Nevertheless, mitigation for the cathode in ASSB is tardily developed because: (1) themore »porous structure of the cathode is hard to be infiltrated by SEs;5 (2) SEs would be oxidized and decomposed by the high valence state elements at the surface of the cathode at high state of charge.5 Herein, we demonstrate a universal cathode design strategy to achieve superior contact capability and high electrochemical/chemical stability with SEs. Stereolithography is adopted as a manufacturing technique to realize a hierarchical three-dimensional (HTD) electrode architecture with micro-size channels, which is expected to provide larger contact areas with SEs. Then, the manufactured cathode is sintered at 700 °C in a reducing atmosphere (e.g.: H2) to accomplish the carbonization of the resin, delivering sufficiently high electronic conductivity for the cathode. To avoid the direct exposure of the cathode active materials to the SEs, oxidative chemical vapor deposition technique (oCVD) is leveraged to build conformal and highly conducting poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) on the surface of the HTD cathode.6 To demonstrate our design strategy, both NCM811 and Na3V2(PO4)3 is selected as active materials in the HTD cathode, then each cathode is paired with organic (polyacrylonitrile-based) and inorganic (sulfur-based) SEs assembled into two batteries (total four batteries). SEM and TEM reveal the micro-size HTD structure with built-in channels. Featured by the HTD architecture, the intrinsic kinetic and thermodynamic conditions will be enhanced by larger surface contact areas, more active sites, improved infusion and electrolyte ion accessibility, and larger volume expansion capability. Disclosed by X-ray computed tomography, the interface between cathode and SEs in the four modified samples demonstrates higher homogeneity at the interface between the cathode and SEs than that of all other pristine samples. Atomic force microscopy is employed to measure the potential image of the cross-sectional interface by the peak force tapping mode. The average potential of modified samples is lower than that of pristine samples, which confirms a weakened space charge layer by the enhanced contact capability. In addition, through Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy coupled with Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy, the preserved interface between HTD cathode and SE is identified; however, the decomposing of the pristine cathode is clearly observed. In addition, Finite element method simulations validate that the diffusion dynamics of lithium ions is favored by HTD structure. Such a demonstrated universal strategy provides a new guideline to engineer cathode electrolyte interface by reconstructing electrode structures that can be applicable to all solid-state batteries in a wide range of chemical conditions.« less
  5. A stable lean‐electrolyte operating lithium–sulfur (Li–S) battery based on a cathode of Li2S in situ electrocatalytically deposited from L2S8 catholyte onto a support of metallic molybdenum disulfide (1T‐MoS2) on carbon cloth (CC) is created. The 1T‐MoS2 significantly accelerates the conversion Li2S8 catholyte to Li2S, chemically adsorbs lithium polysulfide (LiPSs) from solution, and suppresses crossover of the LiPSs to the anode. These experimental findings are explained by density functional theory calculations that show that 1T‐MoS2 gives rise to strong adsorption of polysulfides on its surface and is electrocatalytic for the targeted reversible Li–S conversion reactions. The CC/1T‐MoS2 electrode in a Li–S battery delivers an initial capacity of 1238 mAh g−1, with a low capacity fade of only 0.051% per cycle over 500 cycles at 0.5 C. Even at a high sulfur loading (4.4 mg cm−2) and low electrolyte/S (E/S) ratio of 3.7 µL mg−1, the battery achieves an initial reversible capacity of 1176 mA h g−1 at 0.5 C, with 87% capacity retention after 160 cycles. The post 500 cycles Li metal opposing 1T‐MoS2 is substantially smoother than the Li opposing CC, with XPS supporting the role of 1T‐MoS2 in inhibiting LiPSs crossover.