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

04 Mar 2015

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"Our biggest challenge was to optimise the process to deposit SiO2, not too thick, not too thin, about the thickness of a virus," Mihri Ozkan said.

Graduate students Brennan Campbell, Jeffrey Bell, Hamed Hosseini Bay, Zachary Favors and Robert Ionescu found that silica-caged sulfur particles provided a substantially higher battery performance, but felt further improvement was necessary because of the challenge with the breakage of the SiO2 shell.

"We have decided to incorporate mildly reduced graphene oxide (mrGO), a close relative of graphene, as a conductive additive in cathode material design, to provide mechanical stability to the glass caged structures," Cengiz Ozkan said.

Synthesising silica-coated sulfur particles

A schematic illustration of the process to synthesise silica-coated sulfur particles

The new generation cathode provided an even more dramatic improvement than the first design, since the team engineered both a polysulfide-trapping barrier and a flexible graphene oxide blanket that harnesses the sulfur and silica together during cycling.

"The design of the core-shell structure essentially builds in the functionality of polysulfide surface-adsorption from the silica shell, even if the shell breaks," Campbell said. "Incorporation of mrGO serves the system well in holding the polysulfide traps in place. Sulfur is similar to oxygen in its reactivity and energy yet still comes with physical challenges, and our new cathode design allows sulfur to expand and contract, and be harnessed."

The work was funded by the Winston Chung Global Energy Centre at UC Riverside.


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