Highly conductive porous graphene/sulfur composite ribbon electrodes for flexible lithium–sulfur batteries
Flexible batteries have become an indispensable component of emerging devices, such as wearable, foldable electronics and sensors. Although various flexible batteries have been explored based on one-dimensional and two-dimensional platforms, developing a high energy density electrode with high structural integrity remains challenging. Herein, a scalable, one-pot wet spinning strategy is used to synthesize a flexible porous cathode for lithium–sulfur batteries (LSBs) for the first time, which consists of reduced graphene oxide (rGO), graphene crumples (GCs) and sulfur powders. The electrode structures are tailored using GCs with different dimensions and functional features that are critical to its robustness under mechanical deformation and electrolyte penetration into the battery components. The optimized rGO/GC/S composite ribbon cathodes deliver a high capacity of 524 mA h g−1 after 100 cycles at a current rate of 0.2 C. A shape-conformable battery prototype comprising an rGO/GC/S cathode and a lithium anode demonstrates a stable discharge characteristic under repeated bending/flattening cycles. The LSB prototype supported by an elastomer presents stable discharge behavior with high mechanical robustness against an extension of up to 50%. The above-mentioned findings shed new light on developing sulfur cathodes for flexible, high performance LSBs based on the rational design of graphene structures.