A multi-functional gel co-polymer bridging liquid electrolyte and solid cathode nanoparticles: An efficient route to Li–O<inf>2</inf>batteries with improved performance

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Journal Article
Energy Storage Materials, 2017, 7 pp. 1 - 7
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© 2016 Lithium-oxygen (Li–O 2 ) batteries have the highest theoretical energy density amongst all rechargeable batteries and have attracted significant attention. However, large over-potentials originating from sluggish reaction kinetics often lead to low round-trip energy efficiency and short cycle life. We report here a novel multi-functional gel co-polymer that efficiently enhances the discharge and charge performances in Li–O 2 batteries by intimately connecting the liquid electrolyte and solid cathode nanoparti cles. On one hand, the co-polymer material, poly(2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidinyloxy-4-yl methacrylate-co-methyl methacrylate) (P(TMA-MMA)), functions as a binder during the fabrication of the cathode and forms a gel polymer membrane to retain liquid electrolyte and to increase ionic conductivity. On the other hand, the TMA units, containing N–O radical groups that catalyse Li 2 O 2 formation and decomposition during charge and discharge cycles, are distributed throughout the polymer membrane. This allows more effective formation and decomposition of Li 2 O 2 than surface bound catalytic units. The combination of gelable MMA and catalytic TMA moieties enhances the interface between liquid electrolyte and solid cathode by functioning as a medium both to transport Li + (enhancing discharge process) and to carry electrons (reducing charge over-potential). Consequently, the optimized P(TMA-MMA) co-polymers provide exceptional electrochemical performance in Li–O 2 batteries.
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