April's Paper of the Month

Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) are heavily used in the portable electronics industry due to their low weight and high energy output. Although they are incredibly popular, improvements can be made in terms of capacity and replacing the volatile and flammable organic solvents within the batteries. 

Lithium ion batteries (LIBs) are heavily used in the portable electronics industry due to their low weight and high energy output. Although they are incredibly popular, improvements can be made in terms of capacity and replacing the volatile and flammable organic solvents within the batteries. 

This month’s paper of the month comes from the Warsaw University of Technology. They tested and researched different constituents of LIBs to increase conductivity and capacity of the ionic liquid-lithium salt binary system.  They did so by introducing lithium salt as a Li+ cation glyme solvent. By using the LTS120 system with a Raman spectrometer they could study phase transitions and salt dissociation, giving a better understanding of the conducting mechanism. 

Due to their great conductivity, Ionic liquids (ILs) could be a potential replacement for the dangerous solvents in LIBs. However, there are several issues with their incorporation. Firstly, ILs are produced on a small scale so they are very expensive. Secondly, their high melting points, poor compatibility with electrodes and other electrochemical properties make them less ideal as lithium conducting electrolytes. 

The research group created a new family of ILs to try and improve on the disadvantages of the classic ILs. The ionic salts were mixed with LiTDI salt to create a XMIm+TDI- LiTDI system. This formed a chain shaped [Li(TDI)2]nn- and XMIm+, but this system was found to be a poor conductor of lithium ions. 

Studies from another group found the solvent glyme, when mixed with LiTDI salt, creates a solvated Li(glyme)+ cation and Li polyanion system which is great for ionic conductivity as well as Li cation transference. Both qualities were desired in the Warsaw group’s BMIm+TDI- LiTDI system. 

Karpierz, E. et al. thus incorporated the solvent glyme into their system. Their ternary mixture consisted of an aggregated system of [Li(glyme)]+ cations and [Li(TDI)2]NN- anions dissolved in the ionic liquid BMIm+TDI-. They discovered the order and method of mixing affected the electrochemical properties of their system. They found that by mixing the LiTDI with the glyme first for at least six hours followed by the addition of the ionic liquid, it produces the system with the greatest conductivity.

The group have found a novel method of improving the ionic liquid-lithium salt binary system, which could have great potential application in lithium ion batteries.  

By Tabassum Mujtaba

Karpierz, E. et al. Ternary mixtures of ionic liquids for better salt solubility, conductivity and cation transference number improvement. Sci. Rep. 6, 35587; doi: 10.1038/srep35587 (2016).