Binder free three-dimensional sulphur/few-layer graphene foam cathode with enhanced high-rate capability for rechargeable lithium sulphur batteries†
A novel ultra-lightweight three-dimensional (3-D) cathode system for lithium sulphur (Li–S) batteries has been synthesised by loading sulphur on to an interconnected 3-D network of few-layered graphene (FLG) via a sulphur solution infiltration method. A free-standing FLG monolithic network foam was formed as a negative of a Ni metallic foam template by CVD followed by etching away of Ni. The FLG foam offers excellent electrical conductivity, an appropriate hierarchical pore structure for containing the electro-active sulphur and facilitates rapid electron/ion transport. This cathode system does not require any additional binding agents, conductive additives or a separate metallic current collector thus decreasing the weight of the cathode by typically ∼20–30 wt%. A Li–S battery with the sulphur–FLG foam cathode shows good electrochemical stability and high rate discharge capacity retention for up to 400 discharge/charge cycles at a high current density of 3200 mA g−1. Even after 400 cycles the capacity decay is only ∼0.064% per cycle relative to the early (e.g. the 5th cycle) discharge capacity, while yielding an average columbic efficiency of ∼96.2%. Our results indicate the potential suitability of graphene foam for efficient, ultra-light and high-performance batteries.