Formation of Multilayer Graphene Domains with Strong Sulfur–Carbon Interaction and Enhanced Sulfur Reduction Zones for Lithium–Sulfur Battery Cathodes
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A newly designed sulfur/graphene computational model emulates the electrochemical behavior of a Li-S battery cathode, promoting the S-C interaction through the edges of graphene sheets. A random mixture of eight-membered sulfur rings mixed with small graphene sheets is simulated at 64 wt %sulfur loading. Structural stabilization and sulfur reduction calculations are performed with classical reactive molecular dynamics. This methodology allowed the collective behavior of the sulfur and graphene structures to be accounted for. The sulfur encapsulation induces ring opening and the sulfur phase evolves into a distribution of small chain-like structures interacting with C through the graphene edges. This new arrangement of the sulfur phase not only leads to a less pronounced volume expansion during sulfur reduction but also to a different discharge voltage profile, in qualitative agreement with earlier reports on sulfur encapsulation in microporous carbon structures. The Li2 S phase grows around ensembles of parallel graphene nanosheets during sulfur reduction. No diffusion of sulfur or lithium between graphene nanosheets is observed, and extended Li2 S domains bridging the space between carbon ensembles are suppressed. The results emphasize the importance of morphology on the electrochemical performance of the composite material. The sulfur/graphene model outlined here provides new understanding of the graphene effects on the sulfur reduction behavior and the role that van der Waals interactions may play in promoting formation of multilayer graphene ensembles and small Li2 S domains during sulfur reduction.
author list (cited authors)
Beltran, S. P., & Balbuena, P. B.