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Cornell team uses ice-templating to synthesize porous carbon for high performance electrodes for Li-S batteries

A team at Cornell University has used ice-templating to synthesize hierarchical porous carbons (HPCs) with extremely high surface areas of up to 2340 m2 g−1 with total pore volume of up to 3.8 cm3 g−1 as supports for sulfur for electrodes in Li–S batteries.

Ice-templating (or freeze-casting) uses the controlled freezing of colloids to template designed porosity in materials. The porosity is basically a replica of the ice crystals, produced by freezing the suspension and subsequently removing the ice crystals by sublimation.

For the electrodes, the hierarchical structure of the carbon originating from interconnected large mesopores (10–50 nm), small mesopores (2–10 nm) and micropores (<2 nm) makes the total available surface area highly accessible, resulting in excellent kinetics.

At high C-rates of 2 C and 5 C, large specific capacities of 647 mA h g−1 and 503 mA h g−1, respectively, were obtained after 200 cycles. In addition, the Cornell team also showed that the cyclic stability is independent of the size of the pores in which the sulfur is initially confined when LiNO3 is used as the electrolyte additive. This indicated, they said, that capacity fade due to polysulfide shuttle is effectively eliminated and that it is not related to pore size.

Resources

  • Ritu Sahore, Luis P. Estevez, Anirudh Ramanujapuram, Francis J. DiSalvo, Emmanuel P. Giannelis (2015) “High-rate lithium–sulfur batteries enabled by hierarchical porous carbons synthesized via ice templation,” Journal of Power Sources, Volume 297 Pages 188-194 doi: 10.1016/j.jpowsour.2015.07.068

  • S. Deville, E. Saiz, and A. Tomsia (2007) “Ice-templated porous alumina structures,” Acta Materialia, vol. 55, pp. 1965-1974 doi: Ice-templated porous alumina structures

  • Deville S, Saiz E, Nalla RK, Tomsia AP (2006) “Freezing as a path to build complex composites” Science 311:515-8 doi: 10.1126/science.1120937

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