Mechanism of mediated alkali peroxide oxidation and triplet versus singlet oxygen formation

Nat Chem. 2021 May;13(5):465-471. doi: 10.1038/s41557-021-00643-z. Epub 2021 Mar 15.


Aprotic alkali metal-O2 batteries face two major obstacles to their chemistry occurring efficiently, the insulating nature of the formed alkali superoxides/peroxides and parasitic reactions that are caused by the highly reactive singlet oxygen (1O2). Redox mediators are recognized to be key for improving rechargeability. However, it is unclear how they affect 1O2 formation, which hinders strategies for their improvement. Here we clarify the mechanism of mediated peroxide and superoxide oxidation and thus explain how redox mediators either enhance or suppress 1O2 formation. We show that charging commences with peroxide oxidation to a superoxide intermediate and that redox potentials above ~3.5 V versus Li/Li+ drive 1O2 evolution from superoxide oxidation, while disproportionation always generates some 1O2. We find that 1O2 suppression requires oxidation to be faster than the generation of 1O2 from disproportionation. Oxidation rates decrease with growing driving force following Marcus inverted-region behaviour, establishing a region of maximum rate.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't