Lithium–air batteries are considered to be a potential alternative to lithium-ion batteries for transportation applications, owing to their high theoretical specific energy1. So far, however, such systems have been largely restricted to pure oxygen environments (lithium–oxygen batteries) and have a limited cycle life owing to side reactions involving the cathode, anode and electrolyte2,3,4,5. In the presence of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour, these side reactions can become even more complex6,7,8,9,10,11. Moreover, because of the need to store oxygen, the volumetric energy densities of lithium–oxygen systems may be too small for practical applications12. Here we report a system comprising a lithium carbonate-based protected anode, a molybdenum disulfide cathode2 and an ionic liquid/dimethyl sulfoxide electrolyte that operates as a lithium–air battery in a simulated air atmosphere with a long cycle life of up to 700 cycles. We perform computational studies to provide insight into the operation of the system in this environment. This demonstration of a lithium–oxygen battery with a long cycle life in an air-like atmosphere is an important step towards the development of this field beyond lithium-ion technology, with a possibility to obtain much higher specific energy densities than for conventional lithium-ion batteries.

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The work of A.S.-K., M. A., B. S. and P. A. was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF-DMREF Award #1729420). Work by B.N., K.C.L., R.S.A., L.A.C., R.F.K., A.M., X. H. and J.R.J. was supported by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences. Work by A.N. and C.L. was supported by the Center for Electrical Energy Storage: Tailored Interfaces, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences. The work of F.K.A. and K.K. was supported by a University of Illinois at Chicago start-up fund. C.L. was also supported by programme development funds provided by the Chemical Sciences and Engineering division at Argonne National Laboratory. We acknowledge the MRSEC Materials Preparation and Measurement Laboratory shared user facility at the University of Chicago (NSFDMR-1420709); the EPIC facility (NUANCE Center, Northwestern University), which has received support from the MRSEC program (NSF DMR-1121262) at the Materials Research Center; the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSF EEC−0647560) at the International Institute for Nanotechnology; and the State of Illinois, through the International Institute for Nanotechnology. This work also made use of the Integrated Molecular Structure Education and Research Center at Northwestern University, which has received support from the Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource (NSF NNCI-1542205). The acquisition of the UIC JEOL JEM ARM200CF was supported by an MRI-R2 grant from the National Science Foundation (DMR-0959470). The use of instrumentation at University of Illinois at Chicago Research Resources Center (RRC-East) is acknowledged. A. Nicholls at UIC’s Electron Microscopy Service is also acknowledged for help and support. This research used high performance computing resources of the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility supported under Contract DE-AC02-06CH11357. Use of the Center for Nanoscale Materials, an Office of Science user facility, was supported by the US Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences, under contract DE-AC02-06CH11357. F.K.A. acknowledges the use of the University of Illinois at Chicago High Performance Computing Cluster to perform molecular dynamics simulations. We thank K. Gallagher, P. Redfern, H.-H. Wang, J. Jureller and X. Chen.

Author information


  1. Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA

    • Mohammad Asadi
    • , Baharak Sayahpour
    • , Pedram Abbasi
    • , Marc Gerard
    • , Poya Yasaei
    •  & Amin Salehi-Khojin
  2. Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, Illinois 60616, USA

    • Mohammad Asadi
  3. Materials Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA

    • Anh T. Ngo
    • , Badri Narayanan
    • , Rajeev S. Assary
    •  & Larry A. Curtiss
  4. Department of Physics, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60607, USA

    • Klas Karis
    • , Jacob R. Jokisaari
    • , Xuan Hu
    • , Arijita Mukherjee
    • , Fatemeh Khalili-Araghi
    •  & Robert F. Klie
  5. Chemical Sciences Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois 60439, USA

    • Cong Liu
  6. Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State University, Northridge, California 91330, USA

    • Kah Chun Lau


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A.S.-K. and M.A. conceived the idea. M.A., B.S., P.A. and M.G. performed the electrochemical experiments. M.A. and B.S. synthesized the MoS2 nanoflakes. M.A., B.S., P.A. and P.Y. carried out characterization. A.S.-K. supervised the electrochemical experiments. B.N., K.C.L., R.S.A. and L.A.C. carried out the computational studies of electrolytes. C.L. and A.T.N. performed computational studies of surfaces and the Li2CO3 coating. J.R.J., X.H., A.M. and R.F.K. carried out STEM and EELS experiments. K.K. and F.K.-A. performed classical molecular dynamics simulations. All of the authors contributed to the manuscript before submission.

Competing interests

A.S.-K., M.A., B.S. and P.A. have filed a provisional patent application. The other authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Larry A. Curtiss or Amin Salehi-Khojin.

Reviewer Information Nature thanks S. Soon, G. Yu and the other anonymous reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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