Although numerous research efforts have been made for the last two decades, the chronic problems of lithium-sulphur batteries (LSBs), i.e., polysulfide shuttling of active sulphur material and surface passivation of the lithium metal anode, still impede their practical application. In order to mitigate these issues, we utilized polyimide functionalized glass microfibers (PI-GF) as a functional separator. The water-soluble precursor enabled the formation of a homogenous thin coating on the surface of the glass microfiber (GF) membrane with the potential to scale and fine-tune: the PI-GF was prepared by simple dipping of commercial GF into an aqueous solution of poly(amic acid), (PAA), followed by thermal imidization. We found that a tiny amount of polyimide (PI) of 0.5 wt.% is more than enough to endow the GF separator with useful capabilities, both retarding polysulfide migration. Combined with a free-standing microporous carbon cloth-sulphur composite cathode, the PI-GF-based LSB cell exhibits a stable cycling over 120 cycles at a current density of 1 mA/cm2
and an areal sulphur loading of 2 mgS/cm2
with only a marginal capacity loss of 0.099%/cycle. This corresponds to an improvement in cycle stability by 200%, specific capacity by 16.4%, and capacity loss per cycle by 45% as compared to those of the cell without PI coating. Our study revealed that a simple but synergistic combination of porous carbon supporting material and functional separator enabled us to achieve high-performance LSBs, but could also pave the way for the development of practical LSBs using the commercially viable method without using complicated synthesis or harmful and expensive chemicals.
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