Macromolecules, Vol.53, No.14, 5728-5739, 2020
Miscible Polyether/Poly(ether-acetal) Electrolyte Blends
This study shows that it is possible to obtain homogeneous mixtures of two chemically distinct polymers with a lithium salt for electrolytic applications. This approach is motivated by the success of using mixtures of organic solvents in modern lithium-ion batteries. The properties of mixtures of a polyether, poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO), a poly(ether-acetal), poly(1,3,6-trioxocane) (P(2EO-MO)), and lithium bis(trifluoro-methanesulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) salt were studied by small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) and electrochemical characterization in symmetric cells. The SANS data are used to determine the miscibility window and quantify the effect of added salt on the thermodynamic interactions between the polymers. In the absence of salt, PEO/P(2EO-MO) blends are homogeneous and characterized by attractive interactions, i.e., a negative Flory-Huggins interaction parameter, chi. The addition of small amounts of salt results in a positive effective Flory-Huggins interaction parameter, chi(eff), and macrophase separation. Surprisingly, miscible blends and negative chi(eff) parameters are obtained when the salt concentration is increased beyond a critical value. The electrochemical properties of PEO/P(2EO-MO)/LiTFSI blends at a given salt concentration were close to those obtained in PEO/LiTFSI electrolytes at the same salt concentration. This suggests that in the presence of PEO the electrochemical properties exhibited by P(2EO-MO) chains are similar to those of PEO chains. This work opens the door to a new direction for creating new and improved polymer electrolytes either by combining existing polymers and salt or by synthesizing new polymers with the specific aim of including them in miscible polymer blend electrolytes.