Yuanjian Li, Wenyu Wang, Xiaoxiao Liu, Eryang Mao, Mintao Wang, Guocheng Li, Lin Fu, Zhen Li, Alex Yong Sheng Eng, Zhi Wei Seh, Yongming Sun, Engineering stable electrode-separator interfaces with ultrathin conductive polymer layer for high-energy-density Li-S batteries, Energy Storage Materials, Volume 23, 2019, Pages 261-268, ISSN 2405-8297, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ensm.2019.05.005.
Lithium-sulfur (Li-S) battery has been regarded as a promising energy-storage system due to its high theoretical specific capacity of 1675 mAh g−1 and low cost of raw materials. However, several challenges remain to make Li-S batteries viable, including the shuttling of soluble lithium polysulfide intermediates and pulverization of Li metal anode. Engineering stable electrode-separator interfaces without causing large mass/volume increase of inactive materials and electrolyte uptake is an effective approach to improve the cycling stability of Li-S batteries while maintaining high available energy density. Herein, we report the engineering of a stable electrode-separator interface with an ultrathin conductive polymer nanolayer on the pore walls of both surfaces of the separator via a simple and scalable approach using in-situ vapor-phase polymerization of polypyrrole (PPy) on commercial Celgard separator with only a small increase in overall mass and volume. The inherent hydrophilicity of PPy enables the separator to have enhanced electrolyte uptake, which facilitates homogenous Li+ flux and thus uniform plating and stripping of metallic lithium at the anode side during the charge/discharge processes. Meanwhile, the chemical immobilization effect of PPy suppresses the migration of the soluble polysulfides and improves the stability of the sulfur cathode. We showed that a Li||Li symmetrical cell with the PPy modified separator gave a low and stable overpotential of less than 30 mV for over 250 h' stripping and plating test at 1 mA cm−2 with a fixed areal capacity of 3 mAh cm−2, which was significantly better than that using a regular Celgard separator. Using the PPy modified separator, Li-S cell with sulfur/carbon black composite cathode and lithium anode delivered stable cycling for 250 cycles at 0.5 C with a low capacity decay rate of 0.083% per cycle. Even for a Li-S cell with a high-areal-capacity sulfur cathode (4.8 mAh cm−2), good cycling stability was achieved. It gave a reversible areal capacity of 3.6 mAh cm−2 after 150 charge/discharge cycles at 0.2 C with 75.6% capacity retention. Besides, the as-achieved separator showed better thermal stability than the bare counterpart. This work offers an alternative approach for achieving a practical Li-S battery toward high energy density and long cycle life through simple and scalable separator-electrode interface engineering without significant increase in volume and mass.
Singapore National Research Foundation (NRF NRFF2017 04).