A high-volumetric-capacity cathode based on interconnected close-packed N-doped porous carbon nanospheres for long-life lithium–sulfur batteries

This study reports a Li–S battery cathode of high volumetric capacity enabled by novel micro- and mesostructuring. The cathode is based on monodis-perse highly porous carbon nanospheres derived from a facile template- and surfactant-free method. At the mesoscale, the nanospheres structure into interconnected close-packed clusters of a few microns in extent, thus facili-tating the fabrication of dense crack-free high areal sulfur loading (5 mg cm−2) cathodes with high electrical conductivity and low cathode impedance. A combination of the nitrogen doping (5 wt%), high porosity (2.3 cm3 g−1), and surface area (2900 m2 g−1) at the microscale enables high sulfur immobiliza-tion and utilization. The cathode delivers among the best reported volumetric capacity to date, above typical Li-ion areal capacity at 0.2 C over 200 cycles and low capacity fading of 0.1% per cycle at 0.5 C over 500 cycles. The compact cathode structure also ensures a low electrolyte requirement (6 µL mg−1), which aids a low overall cell weight, and further, among the best gravimetric capacities published to date as well.