Block Copolymer Electrolytes Polymers for Solid-State Lithium Batteries
Abstract: The use of solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) for lithium battery devices is a rapidly growing research area. The liquid electrolytes that are used today are inflammable and harmful towards the battery components. The adoption of SPEs could drastically improve this situation, but they still suffer from a too low performance at ambient temperatures for most practical applications. However, by increasing the operating temperature to between 60 °C and 90 °C, the electrolyte performance can be drastically increased. The drawback of this approach, partly, is that parasitic side reactions become noticeable at these elevated temperatures, thus affecting battery lifetime and performance. Furthermore, the ionically conductive polymer loses its mechanical integrity, thus triggering a need for an external separator in the battery device.One way of combining both mechanical properties and electrochemical performance is to design block copolymer (BCP) electrolytes, that is, polymers that are tailored to combine one ionic conductive block with a mechanical block, into one polymer. The hypothesis is that the BCP electrolytes should self-assemble into well-defined microphase separated regions in order to maximize the block properties. By varying monomer composition and structure of the BCP, it is possible to design electrolytes with different battery device performance. In Paper I and Paper II two types of methacrylate-based triblock copolymers with different mechanical blocks were synthesized, in order to evaluate morphology, electrochemical performance, and battery performance. In Paper III and Paper IV a different strategy was adopted, with a focus on diblock copolymers. In this strategy, the ethylene oxide was replaced by poly(e-caprolactone) and poly(trimethylene carbonate) as the lithium-ion dissolving group. The investigated mechanical blocks in these studies were poly(benzyl methacrylate) and polystyrene. The battery performance for these electrolytes was superior to the methacrylate-based battery devices, thus resulting in stable battery cycling at 40 °C and 30 °C.
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