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Synergistic Ultrathin Functional Polymer-Coated Carbon Nanotube Interlayer for High Performance Lithium–Sulfur Batteries

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journal contribution
posted on 2016-07-20, 00:00 authored by Joo Hyun Kim, Jihoon Seo, Junghyun Choi, Donghyeok Shin, Marcus Carter, Yeryung Jeon, Chengwei Wang, Liangbing Hu, Ungyu Paik
Lithium–sulfur (Li–S) batteries have been intensively investigated as a next-generation rechargeable battery due to their high energy density of 2600 W·h kg–1 and low cost. However, the systemic issues of Li–S batteries, such as the polysulfide shuttling effect and low Coulombic efficiency, hinder the practical use in commercial rechargeable batteries. The introduction of a conductive interlayer between the sulfur cathode and separator is a promising approach that has shown the dramatic improvements in Li–S batteries. The previous interlayer work mainly focused on the physical confinement of polysulfides within the cathode part, without considering the further entrapment of the dissolved polysulfides. Here, we designed an ultrathin poly­(acrylic acid) coated single-walled carbon nanotube (PAA-SWNT) film as a synergic functional interlayer to address the issues mentioned above. The designed interlayer not only lowers the charge transfer resistance by the support of the upper current collector but also localizes the dissolved polysulfides within the cathode part by the aid of a physical blocking and chemical bonding. With the synergic combination of PAA and SWNT, the sulfur cathode with a PAA-SWNT interlayer maintained higher capacity retention over 200 cycles and achieved better rate retention than the sulfur cathode with a SWNT interlayer. The proposed approach of combining a functional polymer and conductive support material can provide an optimiztic strategy to overcome the fundamental challenges underlying in Li–S batteries.