Silica gel solid nanocomposite electrolytes with interfacial conductivity promotion exceeding the bulk Li-ion conductivity of the ionic liquid electrolyte filler

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Science Advances  10 Jan 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 2, eaav3400
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aav3400


The transition to solid-state Li-ion batteries will enable progress toward energy densities of 1000 W·hour/liter and beyond. Composites of a mesoporous oxide matrix filled with nonvolatile ionic liquid electrolyte fillers have been explored as a solid electrolyte option. However, the simple confinement of electrolyte solutions inside nanometer-sized pores leads to lower ion conductivity as viscosity increases. Here, we demonstrate that the Li-ion conductivity of nanocomposites consisting of a mesoporous silica monolith with an ionic liquid electrolyte filler can be several times higher than that of the pure ionic liquid electrolyte through the introduction of an interfacial ice layer. Strong adsorption and ordering of the ionic liquid molecules render them immobile and solid-like as for the interfacial ice layer itself. The dipole over the adsorbate mesophase layer results in solvation of the Li+ ions for enhanced conduction. The demonstrated principle of ion conduction enhancement can be applied to different ion systems.

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