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High Ion Conducting Polymer Nanocomposite Electrolytes Using Hybrid Nanofillers

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journal contribution
posted on 14.03.2012, 00:00 by Changyu Tang, Ken Hackenberg, Qiang Fu, Pulickel M. Ajayan, Haleh Ardebili
There is a growing shift from liquid electrolytes toward solid polymer electrolytes, in energy storage devices, due to the many advantages of the latter such as enhanced safety, flexibility, and manufacturability. The main issue with polymer electrolytes is their lower ionic conductivity compared to that of liquid electrolytes. Nanoscale fillers such as silica and alumina nanoparticles are known to enhance the ionic conductivity of polymer electrolytes. Although carbon nanotubes have been used as fillers for polymers in various applications, they have not yet been used in polymer electrolytes as they are conductive and can pose the risk of electrical shorting. In this study, we show that nanotubes can be packaged within insulating clay layers to form effective 3D nanofillers. We show that such hybrid nanofillers increase the lithium ion conductivity of PEO electrolyte by almost 2 orders of magnitude. Furthermore, significant improvement in mechanical properties were observed where only 5 wt % addition of the filler led to 160% increase in the tensile strength of the polymer. This new approach of embedding conducting–insulating hybrid nanofillers could lead to the development of a new generation of polymer nanocomposite electrolytes with high ion conductivity and improved mechanical properties.