Quantifying the ion coordination strength in polymer electrolytes

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2022 Jul 6;24(26):16343-16352. doi: 10.1039/d2cp01904c.


In the progress of implementing solid polymer electrolytes (SPEs) into batteries, fundamental understanding of the processes occurring within and in the vicinity of the SPE are required. An important but so far relatively unexplored parameter influencing the ion transport properties is the ion coordination strength. Our understanding of the coordination chemistry and its role for the ion transport is partly hampered by the scarcity of suitable methods to measure this phenomenon. Herein, two qualitative methods and one quantitative method to assess the ion coordination strength are presented, contrasted and discussed for TFSI-based salts of Li+, Na+ and Mg2+ in polyethylene oxide (PEO), poly(ε-caprolactone) (PCL) and poly(trimethylene carbonate) (PTMC). For the qualitative methods, the coordination strength is probed by studying the equilibrium between cation coordination to polymer ligands or solvent molecules, whereas the quantitative method studies the ion dissociation equilibrium of salts in solvent-free polymers. All methods are in agreement that regardless of cation, the strongest coordination strength is observed for PEO, while PTMC exhibits the weakest coordination strength. Considering the cations, the weakest coordination is observed for Mg2+ in all polymers, indicative of the strong ion-ion interactions in Mg(TFSI)2, whilst the coordination strength for Li+ and Na+ seems to be more influenced by the interplay between the cation charge/radius and the polymer structure. The trends observed are in excellent agreement with previously observed transference numbers, confirming the importance and its connection to the ion transport in SPEs.