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Structural origins of enhanced capacity retention in novel copolymerized sulfur-based composite cathodes for high-energy density Li–S batteries

  • Vladimir P. Oleshko (a1) (a2), Jenny Kim (a1), Jennifer L. Schaefer (a1), Steven D. Hudson (a1), Christopher L. Soles (a1), Adam G. Simmonds (a3), Jared J. Griebel (a3) (a4), Richard S. Glass (a3), Kookheon Char (a4) and Jeffrey Pyun (a3) (a4)...

Poly[sulfur-random-1,3-diisopropenylbenzene (DIB)] copolymers synthesized via inverse vulcanization form electrochemically active polymers used as cathodes for high-energy density Li–S batteries, capable of enhanced capacity retention (1005 mAh/g at 100 cycles) and lifetimes of over 500 cycles. In this prospective, we demonstrate how analytical electron microscopy can be employed as a powerful tool to explore the origins of the enhanced capacity retention. We analyze morphological and compositional features when the copolymers, with DIB contents up to 50% by mass, are blended with carbon nanoparticles. Replacing the elemental sulfur with the copolymers improves the compatibility and interfacial contact between active sulfur compounds and conductive carbons. There also appears to be improvements of the cathode mechanical stability that leads to less cracking but preserving porosity. This compatibilization scheme through stabilized organosulfur copolymers represents an alternative strategy to the nanoscale encapsulation schemes which are often used to improve the cycle life in high-energy density Li–S batteries.

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Address all correspondence to Vladimir P. Oleshko
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