Systems-level investigation of aqueous batteries for understanding the benefit of water-in-salt electrolyte by synchrotron nanoimaging

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Science Advances  06 Mar 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 10, eaay7129
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7129


Water-in-salt (WIS) electrolytes provide a promising path toward aqueous battery systems with enlarged operating voltage windows for better safety and environmental sustainability. In this work, a new electrode couple, LiV3O8-LiMn2O4, for aqueous Li-ion batteries is investigated to understand the mechanism by which the WIS electrolyte improves the cycling stability at an extended voltage window. Operando synchrotron transmission x-ray microscopy on the LiMn2O4 cathode reveals that the WIS electrolyte suppresses the mechanical damage to the electrode network and dissolution of the electrode particles, in addition to delaying the water decomposition process. Because the viscosity of WIS is notably higher, the reaction heterogeneity of the electrodes is quantified with x-ray absorption spectroscopic imaging, visualizing the kinetic limitations of the WIS electrolyte. This work furthers the mechanistic understanding of electrode–WIS electrolyte interactions and paves the way to explore the strategy to mitigate their possible kinetic limitations in three-dimensional architectures.

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