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In Situ MRI of Operating Solid-State Lithium Metal Cells Based on Ionic Plastic Crystal Electrolytes

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journal contribution
posted on 15.04.2016, 19:03 by Konstantin Romanenko, Liyu Jin, Patrick Howlett, Maria Forsyth
Solid-state ion conductors based on organic ionic plastic crystals (OIPCs) are a promising alternative to conventional liquid electrolytes in lithium battery applications. The OIPC-based electrolytes are safe (nonflammable) and flexible in terms of design and operating conditions. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful noninvasive method enabling visualization of various chemical phenomena. Here, we report a first quantitative in situ MRI study of operating solid-state lithium cells. Lithium ion transfer into the OIPC matrix during the ongoing discharge of the anode results in partial liquefaction of the electrolyte at the metal interface. The developed liquid component enhances the ion transport across the interface and overall battery performance. Displacement of the liquefaction front is accompanied by a faster Li transfer through the grain boundaries and depletion at the cathode. The demonstrated solid–liquid hybrid properties, inherent in many OIPCs, combine benefits of highly conductive ionic liquids with safety and flexibility of solids.