Acta Phys. -Chim. Sin. ›› 2019, Vol. 35 ›› Issue (7): 667-683.doi: 10.3866/PKU.WHXB201806062

• REVIEW • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Research Progress of Cathode Materials for Lithium-Selenium Batteries

Dong CHEN,Xinyang YUE,Xunlu LI,Xiaojing WU,Yongning ZHOU*()   

  • Received:2018-06-28 Published:2018-12-21
  • Contact: Yongning ZHOU
  • Supported by:
    the National Natural Science Foundation of China(51502039);1000 Youth Talents Plan, China(D1210005)


The global energy shortage has led to vigorous research for the development of new energy technologies in all countries to cope with the energy crisis and to meet the demand for green energy. In this regard, the development of new battery systems with high energy densities has become the current research hotspot. Lithium-sulfur battery is considered as a promising candidate due to its high energy density and low cost. However, it suffers from the insulating nature of sulfur and the shuttle effect of polysulfide, which hinder its practical application. Selenium (Se), as a congener element of sulfur, possesses electrochemical properties similar to sulfur. Lithium-selenium batteries have attracted considerable research attention due to the high electronic conductivity of selenium and high volumetric capacity. The conductivity of Se (1 × 10-3 S·m-1) is ~24 orders of magnitude higher than that of sulfur (5 × 10-28 S·m-1), providing much better electron transportation in cathode, leading to fast electrochemical reaction and high utilization of Se. Moreover, Se is compatible with cheap carbonate-based electrolytes, which could greatly reduce the cost. Lithium-selenium batteries also have much higher theoretical volumetric and gravimetric capacities (3253 mAh·cm-3 and 675 mAh·g-1, respectively) than those of commercial lithium-ion batteries such as LiCoO2/graphite and LiFePO4/graphite systems. Volumetric capacity is a more important requirement than gravimetric capacity for a battery, especially for applications in electric vehicles and portable electronic devices, because they have limited space for accommodating batteries. Thus, research on lithium-selenium batteries with high volumetric capacities is of great significance for these volume-sensitive applications. However, the electrochemical performance of current lithium-selenium batteries is not satisfactory. Several key problems must be solved, including shuttle effect, electrolyte compatibility, volume change during cycling, capacity fading, and low coulombic efficiency. In recent years, widespread research has been conducted to address these problems and considerable progress has been made. This review summarizes the status of research on lithium-selenium batteries, and focuses on the recent progress in the research of selenium-carbon cathode materials. The advantages and disadvantages of lithium-selenium batteries are discussed in detail. The performance-structure relationship is analyzed from the perspective of different dimensional structures, including one-dimensional nanofibers and nanowires, two-dimensional nanosheets, composite films and scaffolds, three-dimensional hollow structures, solid structures, and freestanding structures (spheres, nanobelts, nanotubes, microcubes etc.). Other types of selenium-based cathodes, including metal selenides and heterocyclic selenium-sulfur (SexSy), are also described. The compatible electrolytes and functional interlayers for lithium-selenium batteries are also discussed. The reaction mechanisms of lithium-selenium batteries and their relationship with various electrolytes are summarized. Finally, the future perspective of lithium-selenium batteries is proposed.

Key words: Lithium-selenium battery, Cathode material, Selenium-carbon composite, Electrolyte, Shuttle effect


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