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Structural origins of enhanced capacity retention in novel copolymerized sulfur-based composite cathodes for high-energy density Li–S batteries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 July 2015

Vladimir P. Oleshko*
Affiliation:
Materials Science and Engineering Division, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899 Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742
Jenny Kim
Affiliation:
Materials Science and Engineering Division, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
Jennifer L. Schaefer
Affiliation:
Materials Science and Engineering Division, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
Steven D. Hudson
Affiliation:
Materials Science and Engineering Division, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
Christopher L. Soles
Affiliation:
Materials Science and Engineering Division, Materials Measurement Laboratory, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899
Adam G. Simmonds
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 8721
Jared J. Griebel
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 8721 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The World Class University Program of Chemical Convergence for Energy and Environment, The National Creative Research Initiative Center for Intelligent Hybrids, and Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Research, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Korea
Richard S. Glass
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 8721
Kookheon Char
Affiliation:
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The World Class University Program of Chemical Convergence for Energy and Environment, The National Creative Research Initiative Center for Intelligent Hybrids, and Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Research, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Korea
Jeffrey Pyun
Affiliation:
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 8721 Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, The World Class University Program of Chemical Convergence for Energy and Environment, The National Creative Research Initiative Center for Intelligent Hybrids, and Center for Nanoparticle Research, Institute for Basic Research, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-744, Korea
*
Address all correspondence to Vladimir P. Oleshko atvladimir.oleshko@nist.gov
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Abstract

Poly[sulfur-random-1,3-diisopropenylbenzene (DIB)] copolymers synthesized via inverse vulcanization form electrochemically active polymers used as cathodes for high-energy density Li–S batteries, capable of enhanced capacity retention (1005 mAh/g at 100 cycles) and lifetimes of over 500 cycles. In this prospective, we demonstrate how analytical electron microscopy can be employed as a powerful tool to explore the origins of the enhanced capacity retention. We analyze morphological and compositional features when the copolymers, with DIB contents up to 50% by mass, are blended with carbon nanoparticles. Replacing the elemental sulfur with the copolymers improves the compatibility and interfacial contact between active sulfur compounds and conductive carbons. There also appears to be improvements of the cathode mechanical stability that leads to less cracking but preserving porosity. This compatibilization scheme through stabilized organosulfur copolymers represents an alternative strategy to the nanoscale encapsulation schemes which are often used to improve the cycle life in high-energy density Li–S batteries.

Type
Polymers/Soft Matter Prospective Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Materials Research Society 2015 

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