Unique aqueous Li-ion/sulfur chemistry with high energy density and reversibility [Chemistry]
Leveraging the most recent success in expanding the electrochemical stability window of aqueous electrolytes, in this work we create a unique Li-ion/sulfur chemistry of both high energy density and safety. We show that in the superconcentrated aqueous electrolyte, lithiation of sulfur experiences phase change from a high-order polysulfide to low-order polysulfides through solid–liquid two-phase reaction pathway, where the liquid polysulfide phase in the sulfide electrode is thermodynamically phase-separated from the superconcentrated aqueous electrolyte. The sulfur with solid–liquid two-phase exhibits a reversible capacity of 1,327 mAh/(g of S), along with fast reaction kinetics and negligible polysulfide dissolution. By coupling a sulfur anode with different Li-ion cathode materials, the aqueous Li-ion/sulfur full cell delivers record-high energy densities up to 200 Wh/(kg of total electrode mass) for >1,000 cycles at ∼100% coulombic efficiency. These performances already approach that of commercial lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) using a nonaqueous electrolyte, along with intrinsic safety not possessed by the latter. The excellent performance of this aqueous battery chemistry significantly promotes the practical possibility of aqueous LIBs in large-format applications.
Publisher URL: http://www.pnas.org/content/114/24/6197.short
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