American Chemical Society
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Localized Hydrophobicity in Aqueous Zinc Electrolytes Improves Zinc Metal Reversibility

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posted on 2022-09-07, 19:35 authored by Peichao Zou, Ruoqian Lin, Travis P. Pollard, Libing Yao, Enyuan Hu, Rui Zhang, Yubin He, Chunyang Wang, William C. West, Lu Ma, Oleg Borodin, Kang Xu, Xiao-Qing Yang, Huolin L. Xin
The rechargeability of aqueous zinc metal batteries is plagued by parasitic reactions of the zinc metal anode and detrimental morphologies such as dendritic or dead zinc. To improve the zinc metal reversibility, hereby we report a new solution structure of aqueous electrolyte with hydroxyl-ion scavengers and hydrophobicity localized in solvent clusters. We show that although hydrophobicity sounds counterintuitive for an aqueous system, hydrophilic pockets may be encapsulated inside a hydrophobic outer layer, and a hydrophobic anode–electrolyte interface can be generated through the addition of a cation-philic, strongly anion-phobic, and OH-reactive diluent. The localized hydrophobicity enables less active water and less absorbed water on the Zn anode surface, which suppresses the parasitic water reduction; while the hydroxyl-ion-scavenging functionality further minimizes undesired passivation layer formation, thus leading to superior reversibility (an average Zn plating/stripping efficiency of 99.72% for 1000 cycles) and lifetime (80.6% capacity retention after 5000 cycles) of zinc batteries.