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Critical Role of Surface Defects in the Controllable Deposition of Li2S on Graphene: From Molecule to Crystallite

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journal contribution
posted on 15.11.2020, 21:29 by Fangyuan Su, Zonglin Yi, Lijing Xie, Liqin Dai, Nan Dong, Chen Zhang, Guowei Ling, Peide Han, Chengmeng Chen
Uncontrollable electrochemical deposition of Li2S has negative impacts on the electrochemical performance of lithium–sulfur batteries, but the relationship between the deposition and the surface defects is rarely reported. Herein, ab initio molecular dynamics (AIMD) and density functional theory (DFT) approaches are used to study the Li2S deposition behaviors on pristine and defected graphene substrates, including pyridinic N (PDN) doped and single vacancy (SV), as well as the interfacial characteristics, in that such defects could improve the polarity of the graphene material, which plays a vital role in the cathode. The result shows that due to the constraint of molecular vibration, Li2S molecules tend to form stable adsorption with PDN atoms and SV defects, followed by the nucleation of Li2S clusters on these sites. Moreover, the clusters are more likely to grow near these sites following a spherical pattern, while a lamellar pattern is favorable on pristine graphene substrates. It is also discovered that PDN atoms and SV defects provide atomic-level pathways for the electronic transfer within the Li2S–electrode interface, further improving the electrochemical performance of the Li–S battery. It is found for the first time that surface defects also have strong impacts on the deposition pattern of Li2S and provide electronic pathways simultaneously. Our work demonstrated the interior relationship between the surface defects in carbon substrates and the stability of Li2S precipitates, which is of high significance to understand the electrochemical kinetics and design Li–S battery with long cycle life.