Self-assembled peptides for coating of active sulfur nanoparticles in lithium–sulfur battery
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Development of lithium–sulfur (Li–S) battery is hindered by poor cyclability due to the loss of sulfur, although Li–S battery can provide high energy density. Coating of sulfur nanoparticles can help maintain active sulfur in the cathode of Li–S battery, and hence increase the cyclability. Among myriad of coating materials, synthetic peptides are very attractive because of their spontaneous self-assembly as well as electrical conductive characteristics. In this study, we explored the use of various synthetic peptides as a coating material for sulfur nanoparticles. Atomistic simulations were carried out to identify optimal peptide structure and density for coating sulfur nanoparticles. Three different peptide models, poly-proline, poly(leucine–lysine) and poly-histidine, are selected for this study based on their peptide–peptide and peptide-sulfur interactions. Simulation results show that both poly-proline and poly(leucine–lysine) can form self-assembled coating on sulfur nanoparticles (2–20 nm) in pyrrolidinone, a commonly used solvent for cathode slurry. We also studied the structural integrity of these synthetic peptides in organic [dioxolane (DOL) and dimethoxyethane (DME)] electrolyte used in Li–S battery. Both peptides show stable structures in organic electrolyte (DOL/DME) used in Li–S battery. Furthermore, the dissolution of sulfur molecules in organic electrolyte is investigated in the absence and presence of these peptide coatings. It was found that only poly(leucine–lysine)-based peptide can most effectively suppress the sulfur loss in electrolyte, suggesting its potential applications in Li–S battery as a coating material.
KeywordsSynthetic peptides Sulfur coating Molecular simulation Sulfur dissolution Modeling and simulation Energy storage
This work was supported in part by the US National Science Foundation under Grant No. CBET 1250107.
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