The most difficult part of the lithium-sulfur battery technology was the shuttle effect.
The shuttle effect occurred during the battery charging and discharging process, where the polysulfide (Li2Sx) intermediate produced by the positive electrode dissolved into the electrolyte before diffusing through the separator to the negative electrode, and finally contacting the metal lithium.
Lu Zhou was able to achieve lithium-sulfur battery technology, inventing the technology, and registering the patents before ExxonMobil could. He had a huge disagreement with Professor Stanley over lithium-sulfur battery technology.
Professor Stanley, who was backed by ExxonMobil, used subterfuge to poach an assistant from the Sarrot Institute, stealing Professor Sarrot's caged carbon molecules model.
But there was an up-side to all this.
Professor Stanley eventually somehow helped Lu Zhou complete the "Analyze carbon nanospheres under the modified PDMS film" mission, thus helping him reach level 4 materials science. This indirectly led him to winning the Nobel Prize…
Many years had passed, but Lu Zhou had yet to thank this professor.
The black powder in the test tube was Professor Stanley's caged carbon molecules, which was the same as the carbon nanospheres found on Debris No.1.
Yang Xu: "What is this…"
"A type of caged carbon molecules used to transport oxygen molecules, although I prefer to call it carbon nanospheres."
Lu Zhou placed the test tube in Yang Xu's hands and said, "Don't forget that in addition to the gas exchange chamber and the external diaphragm, our lithium anode material also has a layer of modified PDMS film on top of it. When the concentration of oxygen molecules on both sides of the film reaches a certain value, they'll transport oxygen molecules from one side to the other like little ants."
Basically, it added two layers of security to the oxygen and nitrogen separation system. The first layer was the oxygen screening membrane, which was a mixture of the organic substances listed on the whiteboard by Lu Zhou. This membrane could sustain a 98% pure oxygen environment!
As for the second layer of security, that was the modified PDMS film on the lithium anode material!
After adding the hollow carbon spheres, the modified PDMS film on the surface of the lithium anode would transport oxygen molecules to the lithium anode surface.
"… We can even control the rate of lithium oxidation by modifying the number of carbon nanospheres on the PDMS film, indirectly controlling the performance of the battery."
When Yang Xu heard Lu Zhou's words, he was filled with shock.
This thing is that strong?
Even though he wanted to ask Lu Zhou, he was a researcher who had a sample right in front of him. Asking a question would be rather moronic.
Without hesitating, he brought the test tube to an experimental device.
Inside the device was a battery mold and protective gas operation box, which were used to assemble and test batteries.
Testing Lu Zhou's invention was easy; he didn't even need to use a complete lithium-air battery.
He only needed to make a lithium metal sheet covered with modified PDMS material and mixed with the carbon nanospheres. Then, he would have to expose it to a series of gas environments such as pure oxygen, pure carbon dioxide, pure nitrogen, etc. He would instantly know what kind of oxygen pass-through properties it had.
After some complicated preparation and waiting, the experiment was finally done.
In a normal air environment, the reaction wasn't obvious. There was some amount of oxidation on the surface, which was confirmed to be lithium oxide!
In the nitrogen and carbon dioxide environments, the lithium didn't react at all!
As for the pure oxygen environment…
Like Lu Zhou said, the entire lithium anode went through huge changes.
Yang Xu was so surprised he didn't know what to say. Lu Zhou smiled and said, "If you observed these reactions under a microscope, you would be even more shocked."
Yang Xu gulped and said, "So… you completed this experiment… a long time ago?"
Lu Zhou: "I told you, I did this experiment when I was still teaching at Princeton, I just never published it."
Of course, there were still many differences between this carbon nanosphere and the original ones made by Professor Stanley.
By using computational chemistry methods, Lu Zhou adjusted the positions of several large π bonds on the surface, thus increasing its oxygen transportation properties.
However, the methods for preparing the carbon nanospheres stayed the same.
"This is amazing…"
"This oxygen polymer material transporter is incredible!"
Lu Zhou looked at Yang Xu and said nostalgically, "It is incredible. Actually, I've always wondered about the mechanism of this transportation process. I even created two sets of theories, but I just can't prove which one is correct."
Yang Xu: "How… did you do it?"
Lu Zhou laughed awkwardly and smiled.
"Long story short, an old friend helped me with the caged carbon molecules synthesis, then I found some small improvements on the π bonds."
Of course, the most important part was having the Debris No.1.
Without the Debris, it would have taken him years to find a hollow carbon sphere that was compatible with oxygen molecules.
Yang Xu: "No problems with the patent?"
Lu Zhou immediately said, "No problems, my friend sold it to me for a very cheap price."
This happened a long time ago.
Not long after the lithium-sulfur batteries came out, ExxonMobil's patents became worthless. Even Professor Stanley himself didn't know that his invention could be applied to lithium-air batteries. Thus, Star Sky Technology was able to buy the patent from him for a very cheap price.
Of course, back then, the patent was under his name, not Star Sky Technology.
Even though it didn't cost a lot to buy the patent, the process was quite cumbersome.
Yang Xu said emotionally, "Your friend is such a nice person."
Lu Zhou smiled heartily.
"Yeah, I agree, he's very nice."
Now that the problem with filtering oxygen molecules using the membrane was solved, coupled with the carbon nanospheres, there was no doubt that lithium-air batteries would soon come to life.
After giving Chen Yushan a call and telling her to handle the upcoming patents, Lu Zhou left the Jinling Institute for Advanced Study.
He came to the institute during the early mornings, and it was already night time when he left.
Using the quantum computer to run a simulation was easy, as he just had to put the model into the computer. Experimenting with the carbon nanospheres took quite a long time, especially since he had to cover the lithium metal with a sheet of modified PDMS film.
Lu Zhou sat in Wang Peng's car. He hadn't slept for more than 30 hours, and he was about to take a short nap when Director Li suddenly called him.
Before Lu Zhou could say hello, the other side spoke aggressively.
"I read your report! Is it true? The carbon-based—" Director Li suddenly realized it wasn't safe to speak about these things over the phone, so he said, "Wait, I'll come to your house."
Lu Zhou yawned and asked, "Where are you now?"
"I'm in Beijing! I'm flying over!"
Lu Zhou: "…?"
Before he could respond, Director Li had ended the call.
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