skip to main content


The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, May 23 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, May 24 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Title: Recent Progress of Anode Protection in Li–S Batteries
  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Energy Technology
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. 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 ratio 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 
    more » « less
  2. Abstract

    Metal‐sulfur batteries are a promising next‐generation energy storage technology, offering high theoretical energy densities with low cost and good sustainability. An active area of research is the development of electrolytes that address unwanted migration of sulfur and intermediate species known as polysulfides during operation of metal‐sulfur batteries, a phenomenon that leads to low energy efficiency and short life‐spans. A particular class of electrolytes, gel polymer electrolytes, are especially attractive for their ability to repel polysulfides on the basis of structure, electrostatics, and other polymer properties. Herein, within the context of magnesium‐ and lithium‐sulfur batteries, we investigate the impact of gel polymer electrolyte cation solvation capacity, a property related to network dielectric constant and chemistry, on sulfur/polysulfide‐polymer interactions, an understudied property‐performance relationship. Polymers with lower cation solvation capacity are found to permanently absorb less polysulfide active material, which increases sulfur utilization for Li−S batteries and significantly increases charge efficiency and life‐span for Li−S and Mg−S batteries.

    more » « less
  3. Ever-increasing demands for energy, particularly being environmentally friendly have promoted the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy.1Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs), arguably the most well-studied energy storage system, have dominated the energy market since their advent in the 1990s.2However, challenging issues regarding safety, supply of lithium, and high price of lithium resources limit the further advancement of LIBs for large-scale energy storage applications.3Therefore, attention is being concentrated on an alternative electrochemical energy storage device that features high safety, low cost, and long cycle life. Rechargeable aqueous zinc-ion batteries (ZIBs) is considered one of the most promising alternative energy storage systems due to the high theoretical energy and power densities where the multiple electrons (Zn2+) . In addition, aqueous ZIBs are safer due to non-flammable electrolyte (e.g., typically aqueous solution) and can be manufactured since they can be assembled in ambient air conditions.4As an essential component in aqueous Zn-based batteries, the Zn metal anode generally suffers from the growth of dendrites, which would affect battery performance in several ways. Second, the led by the loose structure of Zn dendrite may reduce the coulombic efficiency and shorten the battery lifespan.5

    Several approaches were suggested to improve the electrochemical stability of ZIBs, such as implementing an interfacial buffer layer that separates the active Zn from the bulk electrolyte.6However, the and thick thickness of the conventional Zn metal foils remain a critical challenge in this field, which may diminish the energy density of the battery drastically. According to a theretical calculation, the thickness of a Zn metal anode with an areal capacity of 1 mAh cm-2is about 1.7 μm. However, existing extrusion-based fabrication technologies are not capable of downscaling the thickness Zn metal foils below 20 μm.

    Herein, we demonstrate a thickness controllable coating approach to fabricate an ultrathin Zn metal anode as well as a thin dielectric oxide separator. First, a 1.7 μm Zn layer was uniformly thermally evaporated onto a Cu foil. Then, Al2O3, the separator was deposited through sputtering on the Zn layer to a thickness of 10 nm. The inert and high hardness Al2O3layer is expected to lower the polarization and restrain the growth of Zn dendrites. Atomic force microscopy was employed to evaluate the roughness of the surface of the deposited Zn and Al2O3/Zn anode structures. Long-term cycling stability was gauged under the symmetrical cells at 0.5 mA cm-2for 1 mAh cm-2. Then the fabricated Zn anode was paired with MnO2as a full cell for further electrochemical performance testing. To investigate the evolution of the interface between the Zn anode and the electrolyte, a home-developed in-situ optical observation battery cage was employed to record and compare the process of Zn deposition on the anodes of the Al2O3/Zn (demonstrated in this study) and the procured thick Zn anode. The surface morphology of the two Zn anodes after circulation was characterized and compared through scanning electron microscopy. The tunable ultrathin Zn metal anode with enhanced anode stability provides a pathway for future high-energy-density Zn-ion batteries.

    Obama, B., The irreversible momentum of clean energy.Science2017,355(6321), 126-129.

    Goodenough, J. B.; Park, K. S., The Li-ion rechargeable battery: a perspective.J Am Chem Soc2013,135(4), 1167-76.

    Li, C.; Xie, X.; Liang, S.; Zhou, J., Issues and Future Perspective on Zinc Metal Anode for Rechargeable Aqueous Zinc‐ion Batteries.Energy & Environmental Materials2020,3(2), 146-159.

    Jia, H.; Wang, Z.; Tawiah, B.; Wang, Y.; Chan, C.-Y.; Fei, B.; Pan, F., Recent advances in zinc anodes for high-performance aqueous Zn-ion batteries.Nano Energy2020,70.

    Yang, J.; Yin, B.; Sun, Y.; Pan, H.; Sun, W.; Jia, B.; Zhang, S.; Ma, T., Zinc Anode for Mild Aqueous Zinc-Ion Batteries: Challenges, Strategies, and Perspectives.Nanomicro Lett2022,14(1), 42.

    Yang, Q.; Li, Q.; Liu, Z.; Wang, D.; Guo, Y.; Li, X.; Tang, Y.; Li, H.; Dong, B.; Zhi, C., Dendrites in Zn-Based Batteries.Adv Mater2020,32(48), e2001854.


    This work was partially supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) Award No. ECCS-1931088. S.L. and H.W.S. acknowledge the support from the Improvement of Measurement Standards and Technology for Mechanical Metrology (Grant No. 22011044) by KRISS.

    Figure 1


    more » « less
  4. Abstract

    Lithium‐sulfur (Li‐S) batteries hold immense promise as next‐generation energy storage due to their high theoretical energy density (2600 Wh kg⁻¹), low cost, and non‐toxic nature. However, practical implementation faces challenges, primarily from Li polysulfide (LiPS) shuttling within the cathode and Li dendrite growth at the anode. Optimized electrodes/electrolytes design effectively confines LiPS to the cathode, boosting cycling performance in coin cells to up to hundreds of cycles. Scaling up to larger pouch cells presents new obstacles, requiring further research for long‐term stability. A 1.45 Ah pouch cell, with optimized sulfur loading and electrolyte/sulfur ratio is developed, which delivers an energy density of 151 Wh kg−1with 70% capacity retention up to 100 cycles. Targeting higher energy density (180 Wh kg−1), the developed 1Ah pouch cell exhibits 68% capacity retention after 50 cycles. Morphological analysis reveals that pouch cell failure is primarily from Li metal powdering and resulting polarization, rather than LiPS shuttling. This occurs for continuous Li ion stripping/plating during cycling, leading to dendrite growth and formation of non‐reactive Li powder, especially under high currents. These issues increase ion diffusion resistance and reduce coulombic efficiency over time. Therefore, the study highlights the importance of a protected Li metal anode for achieving high‐energy‐dense batteries.

    more » « less
  5. 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, 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. 
    more » « less