Nanoengineering to achieve high efficiency practical lithium–sulfur batteries
Rapidly increasing markets for electric vehicles (EVs), energy storage for backup support systems and high-power portable electronics demand batteries with higher energy densities and longer cycle lives. Among the various electrochemical energy storage systems, lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries have the potential to become the next generation rechargeable batteries because of their high specific energy at low cost. However, the development of practical Li–S batteries for commercial products has been challenged by several obstacles, including unstable cycle life and low sulfur utilization. Only a few studies have considered the importance of low electrolyte and high sulfur loading to improve the overall energy densities of Li–S cells. This article reviews the recent developments of Li–S batteries that can meet the benchmarks of practical parameters and exceed the practical energy density of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) including areal sulfur loading of at least 4 mg cm−2, electrolyte to sulfur ratio of less than 10 μL mg−1, and high cycling stability of over 300 cycles. This review presents the advancements in each component in Li–S batteries, including the enhancement of the electrochemical properties of sulfur cathodes, lithium anodes, or electrolytes. Also identified are several important strategies of nanoengineering and how they address the practical limitations of Li–S batteries to compete against LIBs. Additionally, perspectives on fundamentals, technology, and materials are provided for the development of Li–S batteries based on nanomaterials and nanoengineering so that they can enter the market of high energy density rechargeable storage systems.