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Self-healing, recyclable solid electrolytes for Li-ion batteries

By Scott Jenkins |

Energy-storage researchers have been in search of safer electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries, because of persistent concerns over possible overheating and fires resulting from dendrite formation in the anode. Solid polymer electrolytes have been explored to address these issues, but achieving the desired properties of safety and conductivity is challenging. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (https://illinois.edu) have developed a new solid battery electrolyte material capable of self-healing behavior that could make Li-ion batteries safer by suppressing dendrite formation. The material has the added benefit of being easily recyclable. The research team, led by Chris Evans, developed dynamic polymer networks capable of exchanging covalent crosslinks and examined the material’s ability to conduct Li cations. The bond exchange allows the material to self-heal when damaged, a property that could help withstand the formation of dendrites and prevent safety hazards. The solid electrolyte material consists of a poly (ethylene oxide) scaffold containing boronic ester crosslinks, and a lithium salt — lithium bis (trifluoromethanesulfonyl) imide; LiTFSI — as a source of Li cations (diagram). Evans says the…
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