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Abstract

This review article covers applications in which polymer electrolytes are used: lithium batteries, fuel cells, and water desalination. The ideas of electrochemical potential, salt activity, and ion transport are presented in the context of these applications. Potential is defined, and we show how a cell potential measurement can be used to ascertain salt activity. The transport parameters needed to fully specify a binary electrolyte (salt + solvent) are presented. We define five fundamentally different types of homogeneous electrolytes: type I (classical liquid electrolytes), type II (gel electrolytes), type III (dry polymer electrolytes), type IV (dry single-ion-conducting polymer electrolytes), and type V (solvated single-ion-conducting polymer electrolytes). Typical values of transport parameters are provided for all types of electrolytes. Comparison among the values provides insight into the transport mechanisms occurring in polymer electrolytes. It is desirable to decouple the mechanical properties of polymer electrolyte membranes from the ionic conductivity. One way to accomplish this is through the development of microphase-separated polymers, wherein one of the microphases conducts ions while the other enhances the mechanical rigidity of the heterogeneous polymer electrolyte. We cover all three types of conducting polymer electrolyte phases (types III, IV, and V). We present a simple framework that relates the transport parameters of heterogeneous electrolytes to homogeneous analogs. We conclude by discussing electrochemical stability of electrolytes and the effects of water contamination because of their relevance to applications such as lithium ion batteries.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev-matsci-071312-121705
2013-07-01
2024-06-21
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Supplementary Data

  • Article Type: Review Article
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