Macromolecules, Vol.51, No.21, 8761-8771, 2018
Investigation of Solvent Type and Salt Addition in High Transference Number Nonaqueous Polyelectrolyte Solutions for Lithium Ion Batteries
High Li+ transference number electrolytes have attracted recent interest as a means to improve the energy density and rate capabilities of current lithium ion batteries. Here the viscosity and transport properties of a sulfonated polysulfone/poly(ethylene glycol) copolymer that displays both high transference number and high conductivity when dissolved in dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) are investigated for the first time in a battery-relevant solvent of nearly equivalent dielectric constant: mixed ethylene carbonate (EC)/dimethyl carbonate (DMC). The addition of a binary salt to each solution is investigated as a means to improve conductivity, and the diffusion coefficient of each species is tracked by pulse field gradient nuclear magnetic resonance (PFG-NMR). Through the Li-7 NMR peak width and quantum chemistry calculations of the dissociation constant, it is shown that although the two solvent systems have nearly equivalent dielectric constants, the conductivity and transference number of the EC/DMC solutions are significantly lower as a result of poor dissociation of the sulfonate group on the polymer backbone. These results are the first study of polyelectrolyte properties in a battery-relevant solvent and clearly demonstrate the need to consider solvent properties other than the dielectric constant in the design of these electrolytes.