Abstract by Sterling Baird
Physics and Astronomy
Strategies to Maintain Safety and Charge Efficiency in High Specific Capacity Batteries
Sulfur is a low-cost alternative with potential for several times the amount of energy stored in the same equivalent mass of commercial batteries. Several companies are currently manufacturing lithium-sulfur batteries, but the trade-offs between safety, efficiency, and performance are difficult. Three key challenges of the lithium-sulfur chemistry are 1. making electrical contact with sulfur, 2. reducing loss of active energy-storing material in the cathode, and 3. allowing room for the 80% expansion of sulfur becoming lithium sulfide. My work on carbon nanotube architectures addresses these three challenges by 1. providing a conductive scaffolding for the sulfur, 2. encapsulating the sulfur within the cathode using a carbon barrier layer, and 3. allowing room for volume expansion due to the spacing between CNTs.