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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Lithium-Sulfur Batteries with a Block Copolymer Electrolyte Analyzed by X-ray Microtomography

  • Author(s): Devaux, D
  • Villaluenga, I
  • Jiang, X
  • Chang, YH
  • Parkinson, DY
  • Balsara, NP
  • et al.

Most of the work on Lithium-sulfur (LiS) batteries use liquid electrolytes that have limited stability when coupled with Li metal anodes. We have studied LiS batteries with a solid block copolymer electrolyte which exhibits improved stability against Li anodes. The electrolyte comprises a polystyrene-b-poly(ethylene oxide) (SEO) copolymer doped with a Li salt. Hollow carbon nanospheres impregnated with sulfur were used to build a composite cathode. Two types of sulfur-impregnated functionalized carbon nanospheres were used: One with carboxylic acid groups and the other with short lithium poly(4-styrenesulfonyl(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide) (PSTFSI-Li) chains. Cells with Li S dissolved in the SEO based electrolyte served as the baseline. After cycling, the reason for capacity fade was determined by imaging the batteries using synchrotron hard X-ray microtomography. It is generally assumed that LiS cells fail due to dissolution of polysulfide into the liquid electrolyte, i.e., the main problems related to the cathode. In our all-solid cells, failure was primarily due to delamination of the Li foil from the polymer electrolyte layer. Delamination is also observed at the sulfur cathode. It is likely that the large changes in volume of the active materials during cycling induce delamination in all-solid LiS cells. 2 8

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