Toward Practical Solid-State Lithium-Sulfur Batteries: Challenges and Perspectives

Saneyuki Ohno, Wolfgang G. Zeier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Conspectus The energy density of the ubiquitous lithium-ion batteries is rapidly approaching its theoretical limit. To go beyond, a promising strategy is the replacement of conventional intercalation-type materials with conversion-type materials possessing substantially higher capacities. Among the conversion-type cathode materials, sulfur constitutes a cost-effective and earth-abundant element with a high theoretical capacity that has a potential to be game-changing, especially within an emerging solid-state battery configuration. Employment of nonflammable solid electrolytes that improves battery safety and boosts the energy density, as lithium metal anodes are also viable. The long-standing inherent problem of conventional lithium-sulfur batteries, arising from the reaction intermediates dissolved in liquid electrolytes, can be eliminated with inorganic solid ion conductors. In particular, the highly conducting and easily processable lithium-thiophosphates have successfully enabled the lab-scale solid-state lithium-sulfur cells to achieve close-to-theoretical capacities. For applications requiring safe, energy-dense, lightweight batteries, solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries are an ideal choice that could surpass conventional lithium-ion batteries.Nevertheless, there are challenges specific to practical solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries, beyond the typical challenges inherent to solid-state batteries in general. While the conversion reaction of sulfur realizes a large specific capacity, the associated significant total volume changes of the active material results in contact losses among the cathode components and, consequently, decreases reversible capacity. Additionally, the ionically and electronically insulating active material requires composite formation with solid electrolytes and electron-conductive additives to secure sufficient ion and electron supply at a triple-phase boundary. However, the compositing process itself makes the carrier transport pathways very tortuous and requires the balancing of carrier transport and optimization of the attainable energy density. Lastly, the requirement of a high interfacial area to establish sufficient triple-phase boundaries promotes the degradation of the solid electrolytes, and the formation of less-conductive interphases further deteriorates the transport in the composites.This Account focuses on the challenges associated with developing practical solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries and provides an overview over recently developed concepts to tackle these critical challenges: (1) Introduction of the conversion efficiency to enable quantitative assessments of the impact of chemo-mechanical failure. (2) For long-term cycling, the electrolyte degradation at the interface and the electrochemical activity of the formed interphases come into play. Practical stability tests with increased interfacial areas and subsequently altered reversal potentials can quantify the magnitude of the electrolyte degradation and confirm influences of reversible redox activity of the interphases. (3) Monitoring the effective conductivity in the composites clarifies correlations between transport and cyclability, further highlighting the need of quantitative measurements to address the composite carrier transport. (4) Impedance spectroscopy combined with transmission-line model analysis as a function of applied potentials can visualize the stability window of good effective ion transport to utilize both the capacity contributions from redox-active interphases and the high ionic conductivity. In the end, a roadmap toward the practical solid-state lithium-sulfur batteries will be presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)869-880
Number of pages12
JournalAccounts of Materials Research
Volume2
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 22 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Chemical Engineering (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry

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