Fluorine-Free Ionic Liquid Based Electrolytes: Synthesis and Structural Characterization

Abstract: Since their introduction by Sony in 1990, lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have acquired a sizable market share. They have the best energy densities, a high open circuit voltage, a low self-discharge rate, no memory effect, and a slow loss of charge when not in use. These properties make them the most popular rechargeable batteries for portable gadgets, electric vehicles and aerospace applications.  They do, however, pose major safety issues since the electrolytes are made up of fluorinated salts dissolved in volatile organic solvents, the former being meta-stable at ambient temperature and the latter being flammable a with high vapour pressure. Thus, there is an urge to develop thermally and electrochemically stable non-fluorinated electrolytes to improve the safety and performance of batteries. Electrolytes based on ionic liquids (ILs) in general offer a range of suitable advantages including low volatility and high thermal and electrochemical stabilities,and can additionally be made fluorine-free. In general, their physicochemical properties are determined by the interactions between the cations and anions, which are controlled by the chemical functionalities present, with vast freedom in structural design to reduce these interactions and enhance also the ion mobilities. In this study, favoring from of “structural design” three different families of fluorine-free ionic liquids-based electrolytes are designed and created. These families of ILs comprising n- tetrabutylphosphonium, imidazolium, pyridinium based cations and pyridine, pyrazine and ether functionalized salicylate-based anions. The structures and purity of these new ILs are characterized by using multinuclear NMR, FTIR and mass spectrometry. Several features and properties of the novel electrolytes are investigated; thermogravimetric analysis, differential scanning calorimetry, ionic conductivity and electrochemical stability. These studies are further complemented by using PFG NMR diffusometry to understand the possible interaction mechanisms between the oppositely charged ions within the electrolytes, and especially, the influence of Li+ addition in the IL-based electrolytes. 

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