Revealing the Correlation between the Solvation Structures and the Transport Properties of Water-in-Salt Electrolytes

XY Liu and SC Lee and S Seifert and LL He and C Do and RE Winans and G Kwon and T Li, CHEMISTRY OF MATERIALS, 35, 2088-2094 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.2c03654

Water-in-salt (WIS) electrolytes containing 21 m lithium bis(trifluoromethane sulfonyl)imide (LiTFSI) have been considered as a safe and environment-friendly alternative to common organic electrolytes used in lithium-ion batteries. However, the relation between the solvation structures and transport properties of these materials remains elusive. Herein, we performed small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS), small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), and X-ray pair distribution function (PDF) measurements of LiTFSI aqueous solutions at a wide range of concentrations. Combined with molecular dynamics simulations, the detailed solvation structures from long to short length scale were resolved. We found that the TFSI- solvation structures consist of TFSI- solvated structures and TFSI- networks; the former corresponds to solvent separated ion pairs, while the latter corresponds to contact ion pairs and cation- anion aggregates. In addition, we found that the relaxation time in the q range associated with the anion network structure exhibits the same concentration dependence as the viscosity. By combining the results from the experiments and simulations, this study revealed a correlation between the solvation structures of LiTFSI and the transport properties of the solutions, which is critical to understand the relation between the transport properties and the dynamics of the ions for imide-based lithium-ion salt aqueous electrolytes.

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