Binding mechanism of sulfur and dehydrogenated polyacrylonitrile in sulfur/polymer composite cathode

The Nam Long Doan, Mahmoudreza Ghaznavi, Yan Zhao, Yongguang Zhang, Aishuak Konarov, Mikhail Sadhu, Ravichandra Tangirala, P. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Citations (Scopus)


A composite consisting of sulfur/dehydrogenated polyacrylonitrile is one of the most promising cathode materials for use in rechargeable lithium-sulfur batteries. However, the reported sulfur contents have been low, less than 50 wt%, which compromise the intrinsic high specific capacity and energy of elemental sulfur and hence decrease significantly the specific energy of the composite. To identify the potential to further increase the sulfur content, we elucidate the binding mechanism of sulfur and polyacrylonitrile in their composite. The heat treatment experiments at varying timespans with excess sulfur showed a constancy of sulfur content after a critical length of timespan, indicating the saturation of sulfur in the structure of dehydrogenated polyacrylonitrile. Based on molecular structure and size consideration, it is proposed that the binding involves the formation of an 8 membered ring of sulfur embedded between 4 heterocyclic rings of dehydrogenated polyacrylonitrile. From this model and experimental results, we show that there exists an upper limit of sulfur content in the sulfur/dehydrogenated polyacrylonitrile composite at 56 wt%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-69
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Power Sources
Publication statusPublished - May 27 2013


  • Cathode
  • Composite
  • Lithium-sulfur battery
  • Polyacrylonitrile
  • Sulfur content

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering

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