A structural study on a specific Li-ion ordered complex in dimethyl carbonate-based dual-cation electrolytes

Phys Chem Chem Phys. 2024 Jan 31;26(5):3920-3926. doi: 10.1039/d3cp05526d.


Dimethyl carbonate (DMC) is a linear carbonate solvent commonly used as an electrolyte for electric double-layer capacitors (EDLCs) and Li-ion batteries. However, there are serious problems with the use of DMC as an electrolyte solvent: (1) low ionic conductivity when using Li salts (e.g. LiBF4) and (2) liquid-liquid phase separation when using spiro-type quaternary ammonium salts (e.g. SBPBF4). Dual-cation electrolytes, i.e., bi-salt (SBPBF4 and LiBF4) in DMC, are promising candidates to avoid the phase separation issue and to enhance the total and Li+ conductivities. Herein, we reported a specific Li-ion structure in DMC-based dual-cation electrolytes by combining high-energy X-ray total scattering (HEXTS) and all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) simulations. Quantitative radial distribution function analysis based on experimental and simulation results revealed that the phase-separated SBPBF4/DMC (i.e., the bottom phase of 1 M SBPBF4/DMC) forms long-range ion ordering based on the structured SBP+-BF4- ion pairs. When adding LiBF4 salt into SBPBF4/DMC (i.e., dual-cation electrolyte), the ordered SBP+-BF4- structure disappeared owing to the formation of Li-ion solvation complexes. We found that in the dual-cation electrolyte Li ions form multiple Li+-Li+ ordered complexes in spite of relatively low Li-salt concentration (1 M), being a promising Li+-conducting medium with reduced Li salt usage and low viscosity.