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Glass coating takes Li-S battery performance to the next level

04 Mar 2015

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Lithium-sulfur batteries have the potential to deliver up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries. As such, it holds promise for energy-demanding applications such as electric cars. However, a number of issues hinder the commercialisation of sulfur batteries.

One of the main problems is the tendency for lithium and sulfur reaction products, called lithium polysulfides, to dissolve in the battery's electrolyte and travel to the opposite electrode permanently. This causes the battery's capacity to decrease over its lifetime.

Researchers in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside, have investigated a strategy to prevent this "polysulfide shuttling" phenomenon by creating nano-sized sulfur particles, and coating them in silica (SiO2), otherwise known as glass.

Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan

Mihri and Cengiz Ozkan, both professors in the Bourns College of Engineering

The work is outlined in a paper, "SiO2-Coated Sulfur Particles as a Cathode Material for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries," published online in the journal Nanoscale. In addition, the researchers have been invited to submit their work for publication in the Graphene-based Energy Devices special themed issue in RSC Nanoscale.

Ph.D. students in Cengiz Ozkan's and Mihri Ozkan's research groups have been working on designing a cathode material in which silica cages "trap" polysulfides having a very thin shell of silica, and the particles' polysulfide products now face a trapping barrier, a glass cage. The team used an organic precursor to construct the trapping barrier.

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