Risse, S.; Juhl, A.; Mascotto, S.; Arlt, T.; Markoetter, H.; Hilger, A.; Manke, I.; Froeba, M.: Detailed and Direct Observation of Sulfur Crystal Evolution During Operando Analysis of a Li-S Cell with Synchrotron Imaging. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 11 (2020), p. 5674–5679

ABSTRACT: Herein, we present a detailed investigation of the electrochemically triggered formation and dissolution processes of α- and β-sulfur crystals on a monolithic carbon cathode using operando high-resolution synchrotron radiography (438 nm/pixel). The combination of visual monitoring with the electrical current response during cyclic voltammetry provides valuable insights into the sulfur formation and dissolution mechanism. Our observations show that the crystal growth process is mainly dictated by a rapid equilibrium between long-chain polysulfides on one side and solid sulfur/short-chain polysulfides on the other side, which is consistent with previous studies in this field. The high temporal and spatial resolution of synchrotron imaging enables the observation of different regimes during the sulfur formation and dissolution process. The appearance of short-chain polysulfides after the first anodic CV peak initiates a rapid dissolution process of α-sulfur crystals on the cathode. The increase in the long-chain lithium polysulfide concentration at the cathode surface during charge results in an increased crystal growth rate, which in turn produces imperfections in α- and β-sulfur crystals. There are strong indications that these defects are fluid inclusions, which may trap dissolved polysulfides and therefore reduce the electrochemical cell capacity.