Indexed on: 13 Sep '14Published on: 13 Sep '14Published in: Nature communications
Lithium-oxygen batteries have the potential needed for long-range electric vehicles, but the charge and discharge chemistries are complex and not well understood. The active sites on cathode surfaces and their role in electrochemical reactions in aprotic lithium-oxygen cells are difficult to ascertain because the exact nature of the sites is unknown. Here we report the deposition of subnanometre silver clusters of exact size and number of atoms on passivated carbon to study the discharge process in lithium-oxygen cells. The results reveal dramatically different morphologies of the electrochemically grown lithium peroxide dependent on the size of the clusters. This dependence is found to be due to the influence of the cluster size on the formation mechanism, which also affects the charge process. The results of this study suggest that precise control of subnanometre surface structure on cathodes can be used as a means to improve the performance of lithium-oxygen cells.