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J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Jan 16;135(2):763-7. doi: 10.1021/ja309435f. Epub 2012 Dec 28.

Lithium-sulfur battery cathode enabled by lithium-nitrile interaction.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


Lithium sulfide is a promising cathode material for high-energy lithium ion batteries because, unlike elemental sulfur, it obviates the need for metallic lithium anodes. Like elemental sulfur, however, a successful lithium sulfide cathode requires an inherent mechanism for preventing lithium polysulfide dissolution and shuttling during electrochemical cycling. A new scheme is proposed to create composites based on lithium sulfide uniformly dispersed in a carbon host, which serve to sequester polysulfides. The synthesis methodology makes use of interactions between lithium ions in solution and nitrile groups uniformly distributed along the chain backbone of a polymer precursor (e.g., polyacrylonitrile), to control the distribution of lithium sulfide in the host material. The Li(2)S-carbon composites obtained by carbonizing the precursor are evaluated as cathode materials in a half-cell lithium battery, and are shown to yield high galvanic charge/discharge capacities and excellent Coulombic efficiency, demonstrating the effectiveness of the architecture in homogeneously distributing Li(2)S and in sequestering lithium polysulfides.


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