Rechargeable lithium-sulfur (Li-S) batteries hold great potential for high-performance energy storage systems because they have a high theoretical specific energy, low cost, and are eco-friendly. However, the structural and morphological changes during electrochemical reactions are still not well understood. In this Article, these changes in Li-S batteries are studied in operando by X-ray diffraction and transmission X-ray microscopy. We show recrystallization of sulfur by the end of the charge cycle is dependent on the preparation technique of the sulfur cathode. On the other hand, it was found that crystalline Li(2)S does not form at the end of discharge for all sulfur cathodes studied. Furthermore, during cycling the bulk of soluble polysulfides remains trapped within the cathode matrix. Our results differ from previous ex situ results. This highlights the importance of in operando studies and suggests possible strategies to improve cycle life.
© 2012 American Chemical Society