In Situ TEM Study of Volume Expansion in Porous Carbon Nanofiber/Sulfur Cathodes with Exceptional High-Rate Performance

Zheng Long Xu, Jian Qiu Huang, Woon Gie Chong, Xianying Qin, Xiangyu Wang, Li Min Zhou, Jang Kyo Kim

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

98 Citations (Scopus)


KGaA, Weinheim Although lithium sulfur batteries (LSBs) have attracted much interest owing to their high energy densities, synthesis of high-rate cathodes and understanding their volume expansion behavior still remain challenging. Herein, electrospinning is used to prepare porous carbon nanofiber (PCNF) hosts, where both the pore volume and surface area are tailored by optimizing the sacrificial agent content and the activation temperature. Benefiting from the ameliorating functional features of high electrical conductivity, large pore volume, and Li ion permselective micropores, the PCNF/A550/S electrode activated at 550 °C exhibits a high sulfur loading of 71 wt%, a high capacity of 945 mA h g−1at 1 C, and excellent high-rate capability. The in situ transmission electron microscope examination reveals that the lithiation product, Li2S, is contained within the electrode with only ≈35% volume expansion and the carbon host remains intact without fracture. In contrast, the PCNF/A750/S electrode with damaged carbon spheres exhibits sulfur sublimation, a larger volume expansion of over 61%, and overflowing of Li2S, a testament to its poor cyclic stability. These findings provide, for the first time, a new insight into the correlation between volume expansion and electrochemical performance of the electrode, offering a potential design strategy to synthesize high-rate and stable LSB cathodes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvanced Energy Materials
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2017


  • high-rate
  • in situ TEM
  • lithium-sulfur batteries
  • porous carbon nanofibers
  • volume expansion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science


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