Singlet oxygen generation as a major cause for parasitic reactions during cycling of aprotic lithium-oxygen batteries

Nika Mahne, Bettina Schafzahl, Christian Leypold, Mario Leypold, Sandra Grumm, Anita Leitgeb, Gernot A. Strohmeier, Martin Wilkening, Olivier Fontaine, Denis Kramer, Christian Slugovc, Sergey M. Borisov, Stefan A. Freunberger*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-aqueous metal-oxygen batteries depend critically on the reversible formation/decomposition of metal oxides on cycling. Irreversible parasitic reactions cause poor rechargeability, efficiency, and cycle life, and have predominantly been ascribed to the reactivity of reduced oxygen species with cell components. These species, however, cannot fully explain the side reactions. Here we show that singlet oxygen forms at the cathode of a lithium-oxygen cell during discharge and from the onset of charge, and accounts for the majority of parasitic reaction products. The amount increases during discharge, early stages of charge, and charging at higher voltages, and is enhanced by the presence of trace water. Superoxide and peroxide appear to be involved in singlet oxygen generation. Singlet oxygen traps and quenchers can reduce parasitic reactions effectively. Awareness of the highly reactive singlet oxygen in non-aqueous metal-oxygen batteries gives a rationale for future research towards achieving highly reversible cell operation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number17036
JournalNature Energy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Fuel Technology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials


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