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Symmetric lithium sulfide - Sulfur cells: A method to study degradation mechanisms of cathode, separator and electrolyte concepts for lithium-sulfur batteries

: Piwko, Markus; Weller, Christine; Hippauf, Felix; Dörfler, Susanne; Althues, Holger; Kaskel, Stefan


Journal of the Electrochemical Society 165 (2018), No.5, pp.A1084-A1091
ISSN: 0013-4651
ISSN: 1945-7111
ISSN: 0096-4786
Journal Article
Fraunhofer IWS ()
Lithium sulfur battery; sulfur cathode; symmetrical cell

Novel cathode, electrolyte and separator concepts are expected to improve the capacity retention and cycle life of lithium-sulfur batteries by avoiding the dissolution of polysulfide-intermediates into the electrolyte or preventing their diffusion to and reaction with the lithium metal anode. However, their intrinsic evaluation is obscured by ill-defined degradation mechanisms of the lithium counter electrode due to electrolyte and polysulfide consumption during reformation of the solid electrolyte interface. Herein, we introduce symmetric lithium sulfide – sulfur cells to study the “cathode" specific degradation mechanisms of the cathode/electrolyte/separator-system in order to differentiate cathode-, separator, and electrolyte and lithium metal anode degradation. Two identical carbon/sulfur-composite cathodes, either of them one at first lithiated versus lithium, are assembled in a coin cell versus each other. The virtue of this test cell design is demonstrated evaluating prime shuttle-suppression concepts, namely a Nafion-coated polyolefin separator and a sparingly polysulfide-solvating electrolyte. We conclude that symmetric lithium sulfide – sulfur cells provide a valuable methodology to analyze the intrinsic capacity decay and cycle life of cathodes for lithium-sulfur cells with limited solvation and/or blocking of polysulfides, and it is an essential strategy to distinguish cathode from lithium anode degradation.