Lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) have been deployed in a wide range of energy-storage applications and helped to revolutionize technological development. Recently, a lithium ion battery that uses superconcentrated salt water as its electrolyte has been developed. However, the role of water in facilitating fast ion transport in such highly concentrated electrolyte solutions is not fully understood yet. Here, femtosecond IR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics simulations are used to show that bulk-like water coexists with interfacial water on ion aggregates. We found that dissolved ions form intricate three-dimensional ion-ion networks that are spontaneously intertwined with nanometric water hydrogen-bonding networks. Then, hydrated lithium ions move through bulk-like water channels acting like conducting wires for lithium ion transport. Our experimental and simulation results indicate that water structure-breaking chaotropic anion salts with a high propensity to form ion networks in aqueous solutions would be excellent candidates for water-based LIB electrolytes. We anticipate that the present work will provide guiding principles for developing aqueous LIB electrolytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Colloid and Surface Chemistry