Detangling electrolyte chemical dynamics in lithium sulfur batteries by operando monitoring with optical resonance combs
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Challenges in enabling next-generation rechargeable batteries with lower cost, higher energy density, and longer cycling life stem not only from combining appropriate materials, but from optimally using cell components. One-size-fits-all approaches to operational cycling and monitoring are limited in improving sustainability if they cannot utilize and capture essential chemical dynamics and states of electrodes and electrolytes. Herein we describe and show how the use of tilted fiber Bragg grating (TFBG) sensors to track, via the monitoring of both temperature and refractive index metrics, electrolyte-electrode coupled changes that fundamentally control lithium sulfur batteries. Through quantitative sensing of the sulfur concentration in the electrolyte, we demonstrate that the nucleation pathway and crystallization of Li2S and sulfur govern the cycling performance. With this technique, a critical milestone is achieved, not only towards developing chemistry-wise cells (in terms of smart battery sensing leading to improved safety and health diagnostics), but further towards demonstrating that the coupling of sensing and cycling can revitalize known cell chemistries and break open new directions for their development.