Entropic Penalty Switches Li+ Solvation Site Formation and Transport Mechanisms in Mixed Polarity Copolymer Electrolytes

CT Deng and P Bennington and RJ Sánchez-Leija and SN Patel and PF Nealey and JJ de Pablo, MACROMOLECULES, 56, 8069-8079 (2023).

DOI: 10.1021/acs.macromol.3c00804

Emerging solid polymer electrolyte (SPE) designs for efficient Li-ion (Li+) conduction have relied on polarity and mobility contrast to improve conductivity. To further develop this concept, we employ simulations to examine Li+ solvation and transport in poly(oligo ethylene methacrylate) (POEM) and its copolymers with poly(glycerol carbonate methacrylate) (PGCMA). We find that Li+ is solvated by ether oxygens instead of the highly polar PGCMA, due to lower entropic penalties. The presence of PGCMA promotes single-chain solvation, thereby suppressing interchain Li+ hopping. The conductivity difference between random copolymer PGCMA-r-POEM and block copolymer PGCMA-b-POEM is explained in terms of a hybrid solvation site mechanism. With diffuse microscopic interfaces between domains, PGCMA near the POEM contributes to Li+ transport by forming hybrid solvation sites. The formation of such sites is hindered when PGCMA is locally concentrated. These findings help explain how thermodynamic driving forces govern Li+ solvation and transport in mixed SPEs.

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