An elevated lithium battery

Batteries based on lithium metal and oxygen could offer energy densities an order of magnitude larger than that of lithium ion cells. But, under normal operation conditions, the lithium oxidizes to form peroxide or superoxide. Xia et al. show that, at increased temperatures, the formation of lithium oxide is favored, through a process in which four electrons are transferred for each oxygen molecule (see the Perspective by Feng et al.). Reversible cycling is achieved through the use of a thermally stable inorganic electrolyte and a bifunctional catalyst for both oxygen reduction and evolution reactions.
Science, this issue p. 777; see also p. 758


Lithium-oxygen (Li-O2) batteries have attracted much attention owing to the high theoretical energy density afforded by the two-electron reduction of O2 to lithium peroxide (Li2O2). We report an inorganic-electrolyte Li-O2 cell that cycles at an elevated temperature via highly reversible four-electron redox to form crystalline lithium oxide (Li2O). It relies on a bifunctional metal oxide host that catalyzes O–O bond cleavage on discharge, yielding a high capacity of 11 milliampere-hours per square centimeter, and O2 evolution on charge with very low overpotential. Online mass spectrometry and chemical quantification confirm that oxidation of Li2O involves transfer of exactly 4 e/O2. This work shows that Li-O2 electrochemistry is not intrinsically limited once problems of electrolyte, superoxide, and cathode host are overcome and that coulombic efficiency close to 100% can be achieved.

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Supplementary Material


Materials and Methods
Figs. S1 to S11
Table S1
References (3340)


File (aas9343-xia-sm.pdf)

References and Notes

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Published In

Volume 361 | Issue 6404
24 August 2018

Submission history

Received: 8 January 2018
Accepted: 10 July 2018
Published in print: 24 August 2018


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The authors thank V. Goodfellow and R. Smith at the University of Waterloo Mass Spectrometry Facility for their scientific input in the gas chromatography–mass spectrometry measurements. We also thank S. H. Vajargah for performing the TEM measurements. Funding: Research was supported by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council of Canada through their Discovery and Canada Research Chair programs (L.F.N.), and a doctoral scholarship to C.Y.K. Partial funding for this work (C.Y.K.) was also provided by the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, an Energy Innovation Hub funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Basic Energy Sciences. Author contributions: C.X. led the design of the study, and all the authors contributed to the implementation and writing of the manuscript; data collection and analysis were conducted by C.X. and C.Y.K. Competing interests: The authors have no competing interests. Data and materials availability: All data are available in the manuscript or in the supplementary materials.



Department of Chemistry and the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.
Department of Chemistry and the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.
Department of Chemistry and the Waterloo Institute of Nanotechnology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1, Canada.

Funding Information

U.S. Department of Energy: Office of Basic Sciences (JCESR)
Government of Canada: Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council


Corresponding author. Email: [email protected]

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