Polysulfide driven degradation in lithium–sulfur batteries during cycling – quantitative and high time-resolution operando X-ray absorption study for dissolved polysulfides probed at both electrode sides†
The development of operando characterization techniques on realistic batteries is essential for an advanced mechanistic understanding in battery chemistry and, therefore, contributes to their further performance improvement. This manuscript presents operando Near-Edge X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (NEXAFS) traceable to the SI units (SI is the abbreviation for the International System of Units) during multiple charge–discharge cycles on both electrodes of lithium–sulfur (Li/S) coin cells which enables an absolute quantification of dissolved polysulfides with no need for calibration samples or reference material. We could reveal that during the charging process, polysulfide (PS) movement from the negative to the positive electrode is inhibited. This leads to a steady increase of dissolved polysulfides at the anode side and, therefore, is one of the key points for capacity fading. We quantitatively track the polysulfides dissolved in the electrolyte and correlate for the first time their evolution with the capacity fading of the cell. We analyze the appearance of PS during cell operation at the cathode and anode side to characterize the transport mechanisms of the polysulfide shuttle phenomena and to reveal quantitative information about their evolution at different states of charge and states of health. Our cell design suppresses the contribution of cathodic sulfur, which is mandatory for reference-sample-free quantification in X-ray spectrometry and allows us to use only slightly modified standard coin cell batteries.
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