Mechanism and performance of lithium–oxygen batteries – a perspective
Rechargeable Li–O2 batteries have amongst the highest formal energy and could store significantly more energy than other rechargeable batteries in practice if at least a large part of their promise could be realized. Realization, however, still faces many challenges than can only be overcome by fundamental understanding of the processes taking place. Here, we review recent advances in understanding the chemistry of the Li–O2 cathode and provide a perspective on dominant research needs. We put particular emphasis on issues that are often grossly misunderstood: realistic performance metrics and their reporting as well as identifying reversibility and quantitative measures to do so. Parasitic reactions are the prime obstacle for reversible cell operation and have recently been identified to be predominantly caused by singlet oxygen and not by reduced oxygen species as thought before. We discuss the far reaching implications of this finding on electrolyte and cathode stability, electrocatalysis, and future research needs.