A typical lithium-sulfur battery consists of two electrodes – a lithium metal anode and a sulfur-carbon cathode – surrounded by a conductive fluid, or electrolyte. Several studies have attributed the battery's short cycle life to chemical reactions that deplete the cathode of sulfur.

But a recent study by researchers is raising doubts about the validity of previous experiments. Using high-power X-ray imaging of an actual working battery, the Stanford-SLAC team discovered that sulfur particles in the cathode largely remain intact during discharge.

Researchers conducted their experiments at SLAC using two powerful imaging techniques: X-ray diffraction and transmission X-ray microscopy.  The X-ray microscope enabled the researchers to take nanosize snapshots of individual sulfur particles before, during and after discharge – the first real-time imaging of a lithium-sulfur battery in operation.

This story is reprinted from material from
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