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In Situ Imaging the Oxygen Reduction Reactions of Solid State Na–O2 Batteries with CuO Nanowires as the Air Cathode

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posted on 2018-05-09, 00:00 authored by Qiunan Liu, Tingting Yang, Congcong Du, Yongfu Tang, Yong Sun, Peng Jia, Jingzhao Chen, Hongjun Ye, Tongde Shen, Qiuming Peng, Liqiang Zhang, Jianyu Huang
We report real time imaging of the oxygen reduction reactions (ORRs) in all solid state sodium oxygen batteries (SOBs) with CuO nanowires (NWs) as the air cathode in an aberration-corrected environmental transmission electron microscope under an oxygen environment. The ORR occurred in a distinct two-step reaction, namely, a first conversion reaction followed by a second multiple ORR. In the former, CuO was first converted to Cu2O and then to Cu; in the latter, NaO2 formed first, followed by its disproportionation to Na2O2 and O2. Concurrent with the two distinct electrochemical reactions, the CuO NWs experienced multiple consecutive large volume expansions. It is evident that the freshly formed ultrafine-grained Cu in the conversion reaction catalyzed the latter one-electron-transfer ORR, leading to the formation of NaO2. Remarkably, no carbonate formation was detected in the oxygen cathode after cycling due to the absence of carbon source in the whole battery setup. These results provide fundamental understanding into the oxygen chemistry in the carbonless air cathode in all solid state Na–O2 batteries.

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