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Issue 35, 2014
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Mechanistic insights into operational lithium–sulfur batteries by in situ X-ray diffraction and absorption spectroscopy

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Abstract

The lithium–sulfur battery is an extremely attractive system for electrical energy storage because of its exceptional theoretical capacity and energy density. However, the practical values typically obtained are much lower and inherently determined by the complex chemistry of reduced sulfur species. The lack of methods to probe sulfur species under realistic battery conditions has frustrated chemical understanding and control. We have employed in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) and sulfur K-edge X-ray absorption near edge spectroscopy (XANES) to probe the sulfur intermediates and products formed in battery electrodes during operation of prototype lithium–sulfur batteries. Correlations between the X-ray and electrochemical data show that the reduction of sulfur to lithium sulfide is mediated through dissociation and disproportionation reactions of a few dominant sulfur species. Deliberate control of these chemical equilibria is essential to approach the theoretical capacity of the lithium–sulfur system.

Graphical abstract: Mechanistic insights into operational lithium–sulfur batteries by in situ X-ray diffraction and absorption spectroscopy

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The article was received on 17 Feb 2014, accepted on 05 Apr 2014 and first published on 07 Apr 2014


Article type: Paper
DOI: 10.1039/C4RA01388C
Citation: RSC Adv., 2014,4, 18347-18353
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    Mechanistic insights into operational lithium–sulfur batteries by in situ X-ray diffraction and absorption spectroscopy

    M. A. Lowe, J. Gao and H. D. Abruña, RSC Adv., 2014, 4, 18347
    DOI: 10.1039/C4RA01388C

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