A high-rate and long-life organic–oxygen battery

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Alkali metal–oxygen batteries promise high gravimetric energy densities but suffer from low rate capability, poor cycle life and safety hazards associated with metal anodes. Here we describe a safe, high-rate and long-life oxygen battery that exploits a potassium biphenyl complex anode and a dimethylsulfoxide-mediated potassium superoxide cathode. The proposed potassium biphenyl complex–oxygen battery exhibits an unprecedented cycle life (3,000 cycles) with a superior average coulombic efficiency of more than 99.84% at a high current density of 4.0 mA cm−2. We further reduce the redox potential of biphenyl by adding the electron-donating methyl group to the benzene ring, which successfully achieved a redox potential of 0.14 V versus K/K+. This demonstrates the direction and opportunities to further improve the cell voltage and energy density of the alkali-metal organic–oxygen batteries.

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Fig. 1: Electrochemical characterization of the representative aromatic hydrocarbons and schematics of the organic–oxygen battery.
Fig. 2: Performance comparison between the K metal anode and the BpK anode in both O2 full-cell and symmetric-cell configurations.
Fig. 3: Rate capability and cycle life of the BpK–O2 cell.
Fig. 4: Analysis of the CE evolution of the BpK–O2 cell at early cycling stage.
Fig. 5: Characterization of discharge product.
Fig. 6: Effect of methylation on the redox potentials of the Bp molecule.

Data availability

Data supporting the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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The work described in this paper was supported by the Research Grant Council of the Hong Kong Administrative Region, China, under the Theme-based Research Scheme through Project T23-60I/17-R and General Research Fund CUHK 14207517. The authors are grateful to Y. Wang for assisting with the OEMS measurements.

Author information

G.C. and Y.-C.L. conceived the project, analysed the data and wrote the manuscript. G.C. performed the density functional theory calculation and conducted the experiments with contributions from W.W. (cell and electrolyte design), N.-C.L. (BpK titration and SEM/EDX measurements) and Z.L. (OEMS and Fenton’s reagent tests).

Correspondence to Yi-Chun Lu.

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Supplementary Information

Supplementary Figures 1–20, Supplementary Tables 1–2, Supplementary Notes 1–4, Supplementary Video Captions 1–2, Supplementary References 1–25

Supplementary Video 1

Reaction of K metal and BpK with bulk water.

Supplementary Video 2

Reaction of K metal and BpK with bulk DMSO.

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Cong, G., Wang, W., Lai, N. et al. A high-rate and long-life organic–oxygen battery. Nat. Mater. 18, 390–396 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41563-019-0286-7

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