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.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.


  1. 1.

    , , & Li–O2 and Li–S batteries with high energy storage. Nat. Mater. 11, 19–29 (2012)

  2. 2.

    et al. Cathode based on molybdenum disulfide nanoflakes for lithium–oxygen batteries. ACS Nano 10, 2167–2175 (2016)

  3. 3.

    , , , & An improved high-performance lithium–air battery. Nat. Chem. 4, 579–585 (2012)

  4. 4.

    et al. A nanostructured cathode architecture for low charge overpotential in lithium–oxygen batteries. Nat. Commun. 4, 2383 (2013)

  5. 5.

    et al. The effect of oxygen crossover on the anode of a Li–O2 battery using an ether-based solvent: insights from experimental and computational studies. ChemSusChem 6, 51–55 (2013)

  6. 6.

    et al. From lithium–oxygen to lithium–air batteries: challenges and opportunities. Adv. Energy Mater. 6, 1502164 (2016)

  7. 7.

    et al. A critical review of Li/air batteries. J. Electrochem. Soc. 159, R1–R30 (2012)

  8. 8.

    & Critical aspects in the development of lithium–air batteries. J. Solid State Electrochem. 17, 1793–1807 (2013)

  9. 9.

    & A reversible long-life lithium–air battery in ambient air. Nat. Commun. 4, 1817 (2013)

  10. 10.

    , , & Synthesis, characterization and performance evaluation of an advanced solid electrolyte and air cathode for rechargeable lithium–air batteries. J. Mater. Sci. Chem. Eng. 4, 74–89 (2016)

  11. 11.

    et al. A synergistic system for lithium–oxygen batteries in humid atmosphere integrating a composite cathode and a hydrophobic ionic liquid-based electrolyte. Adv. Funct. Mater. 26, 3291–3298 (2016)

  12. 12.

    et al. Quantifying the promise of lithium–air batteries for electric vehicles. Energy Environ. Sci. 7, 1555–1563 (2014)

  13. 13.

    , , & Structural properties of Li2CO3–BaCO3 system derived from IR and Raman spectroscopy. J. Mol. Struct. 596, 151–156 (2001)

  14. 14.

    et al. Stability of Li2CO3 in cathode of lithium ion battery and its influence on electrochemical performance. RSC Advances 6, 19233–19237 (2016)

  15. 15.

    et al. Investigation of SEI layer formation in conversion iron fluoride cathodes by combined STEM/EELS and XPS. J. Phys. Chem. C 119, 9762–9773 (2015)

  16. 16.

    , & (eds) The Lithium Air Battery: Fundamentals (Springer, 2014)

  17. 17.

    et al. Compatibility of lithium salts with solvent of the non-aqueous electrolyte in Li–O2 batteries. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. 15, 5572–5581 (2013)

  18. 18.

    et al. In situ ambient pressure X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy studies of lithium–oxygen redox reactions. Sci. Rep. 2, 715 (2012)

  19. 19.

    , , , & Solvents’ critical role in nonaqueous lithium–oxygen battery. J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2, 1161–1166 (2011)

  20. 20.

    et al. A lithium–oxygen battery based on lithium superoxide. Nature 529, 377–382 (2016)

  21. 21.

    , , , & Stability of solid electrolyte interphase components on lithium metal and reactive anode material surfaces. J. Phys. Chem. C 120, 6302–6313 (2016)

  22. 22.

    & Li ion diffusion mechanisms in bulk monoclinic Li2CO3 crystals from density functional. J. Phys. Chem. C 114, 20903–20906 (2010)

  23. 23.

    , , & Defect thermodynamics and diffusion mechanisms in Li2CO3 and implications for the solid electrolyte interphase in Li-ion batteries. J. Phys. Chem. C 117, 8579–8593 (2013)

  24. 24.

    et al. Computational studies of solubilities of LiO2 and Li2O2 in aprotic solvents. J. Electrochem. Soc. 164, E3696–E3701 (2017)

  25. 25.

    et al. The role of LiO2 solubility in O2 reduction in aprotic solvents and its consequences for Li–O2 batteries. Nat. Chem. 6, 1091–1099 (2014)

  26. 26.

    et al. An atomistically informed mesoscale model for growth and coarsening during discharge in lithium–oxygen batteries. J. Chem. Phys. 143, 224113 (2015)

  27. 27.

    et al. Current density dependence of peroxide formation in the Li–O2 battery and its effect on charge. Energy Environ. Sci. 6, 1772 (2013)

  28. 28.

    et al. Direct observation of ordered oxygen defects on the atomic scale in Li2O2 for Li–O2 batteries. Adv. Energy Mater. 5, 1400664 (2015)

  29. 29.

    , & Density functional investigation of the thermodynamic stability of lithium oxide bulk crystalline structures as a function of oxygen pressure. J. Phys. Chem. C 115, 23625–23633 (2011)

  30. 30.

    & Efficiency of ab-initio total energy calculations for metals and semiconductors using a plane-wave basis set. Comput. Mater. Sci. 6, 15–50 (1996)

  31. 31.

    From ultrasoft pseudopotentials to the projector augmented-wave method. Phys. Rev. B 59, 1758–1775 (1999)

  32. 32.

    , & Generalized gradient approximation made simple. Phys. Rev. Lett. 77, 3865–3868 (1996)

  33. 33.

    et al. Gaussian 09, Revision D.01. (Gaussian Inc., 2009)

  34. 34.

    , & GROMACS: A message-passing parallel molecular dynamics implementation. Comput. Phys. Commun. 91, 43–56 (1995)

  35. 35.

    et al. GROMACS: High performance molecular simulations through multi-level parallelism from laptops to supercomputers. SoftwareX 1–2, 19–25 (2015)

  36. 36.

    et al. A GROMOS-compatible force field for small organic molecules in the condensed phase: the 2016H66 parameter set. J. Chem. Theory Comput. 12, 3825–3850 (2016)

  37. 37.

    et al. in Intermolecular Forces Vol. 14 (ed. ) 331–342 (Springer, 1981)

  38. 38.

    , & The missing term in effective pair potentials. J. Phys. Chem. 91, 6269–6271 (1987)

  39. 39.

    & Structure and dynamics of liquid water with different long-range interaction truncation and temperature control methods in molecular dynamics simulations. J. Comput. Chem. 23, 1211–1219 (2002)

  40. 40.

    & Structure and dynamics of the TIP3P, SPC, and SPC/E water models at 298 K. J. Phys. Chem. A 105, 9954–9960 (2001)

  41. 41.

    , , , & Molecular dynamics with coupling to an external bath. J. Chem. Phys. 81, 3684–3690 (1984)

Download references


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


  1. Search for Mohammad Asadi in:

  2. Search for Baharak Sayahpour in:

  3. Search for Pedram Abbasi in:

  4. Search for Anh T. Ngo in:

  5. Search for Klas Karis in:

  6. Search for Jacob R. Jokisaari in:

  7. Search for Cong Liu in:

  8. Search for Badri Narayanan in:

  9. Search for Marc Gerard in:

  10. Search for Poya Yasaei in:

  11. Search for Xuan Hu in:

  12. Search for Arijita Mukherjee in:

  13. Search for Kah Chun Lau in:

  14. Search for Rajeev S. Assary in:

  15. Search for Fatemeh Khalili-Araghi in:

  16. Search for Robert F. Klie in:

  17. Search for Larry A. Curtiss in:

  18. Search for Amin Salehi-Khojin in:


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.

Publisher's note: Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Supplementary information

PDF files

  1. 1.

    Supplementary Information

    This file contains Supplementary Text and Data, Supplementary Figures 1-50, Supplementary Tables 1-6 and Supplementary References – see contents page for details.

About this article

Publication history






By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.