Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Materials Science and Engineering

First Advisor's Name

Chunlei Wang

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Arvind Agarwal

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Co-Chair

Third Advisor's Name

Norman Munroe

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Nezih Pala

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fifth Advisor's Name

Bilal El-Zahab

Fifth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Sixth Advisor's Name

Yu Zhong

Sixth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Sulfur, Polysulfides, Nitrogen-doped graphene, Manganese sulfide, Lithium-sulfur batteries, Room-temperature sodium-sulfur batteries, Cathode, Anode, Nanocomposites

Date of Defense



Developing next generation secondary batteries has attracted much attention in recent years due to the increasing demand of high energy and high power density energy storage for portable electronics, electric vehicles and renewable sources of energy. This dissertation investigates sulfur based advanced electrode materials in Lithium/Sodium batteries. The electrochemical performances of the electrode materials have been enhanced due to their unique nano structures as well as the formation of novel composites.

First, a nitrogen-doped graphene nanosheets/sulfur (NGNSs/S) composite was synthesized via a facile chemical reaction deposition. In this composite, NGNSs were employed as a conductive host to entrap S/polysulfides in the cathode part. The NGNSs/S composite delivered an initial discharge capacity of 856.7 mAh g-1 and a reversible capacity of 319.3 mAh g-1 at 0.1C with good recoverable rate capability.

Second, NGNS/S nanocomposites, synthesized using chemical reaction-deposition method and low temperature heat treatment, were further studied as active cathode materials for room temperature Na-S batteries. Both high loading composite with 86% gamma-S8 and low loading composite with 25% gamma-S8 have been electrochemically evaluated and compared with both NGNS and S control electrodes. It was found that low loading NGNS/S composite exhibited better electrochemical performance with specific capacity of 110 and 48 mAh g-1 at 0.1C at the 1st and 300th cycle, respectively. The Coulombic efficiency of 100% was obtained at the 300th cycle.

Third, high purity rock-salt (RS), zinc-blende (ZB) and wurtzite (WZ) MnS nanocrystals with different morphologies were successfully synthesized via a facile solvothermal method. RS-, ZB- and WZ-MnS electrodes showed the capacities of 232.5 mAh g-1, 287.9 mAh g-1 and 79.8 mAh g-1 at the 600th cycle, respectively. ZB-MnS displayed the best performance in terms of specific capacity and cyclability. Interestingly, MnS electrodes exhibited an unusual phenomenon of capacity increase upon cycling which was ascribed to the decreased cell resistance and enhanced interfacial charge storage.

In summary, this dissertation provides investigation of sulfur based electrode materials with sulfur/N-doped graphene composites and MnS nanocrystals. Their electrochemical performances have been evaluated and discussed. The understanding of their reaction mechanisms and electrochemical enhancement could make progress on development of secondary batteries.





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