Ionic liquids (ILs) show a promising future as electrolytes in electrochemical devices. In particular, IL-based electrolytes bring operations at extreme temperatures to realization that conventional electrolytes fail to accomplish. Although IL electrolytes demonstrate considerable progress in high-temperature applications, their breakthroughs in devices operating at low temperatures are still very limited due to undesirable phase transitions and unsatisfying transport properties. In this study, we present an approach where, by tuning molecular interactions in the system, the designed electrolyte of an IL-based mixture can reach a lower operating temperature with improved transport properties. We have discovered that the incorporation of the IL, ethylammonium nitrate ([EA][N]), can contribute to reforming the molecular interactions within the system, which effectively resolve the crystallization accompanied with the excess of water and retain a low glass transition temperature. The reported liquid electrolyte systems based on a mixture of 1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium iodide ([BMIM][I]), [EA][N], water, and lithium iodide exhibit a glass transition temperature below -105 °C. Furthermore, the optimized electrolyte system shows significant viscosity reduction and ionic conductivity enhancement from 25 to -75 °C. The influence is also noticeable on the increased ionicity, which made the developed electrolyte comparable with other good ILs under the Walden rule. The electrochemical stability of the electrolyte system is revealed by a steady and reproducible profile of iodide/triiodide redox reactions at room temperature over a proper potential window via cyclic voltammetry. The results from this work not only provide a potential solution to applications of the iodide/triiodide redox couple-based electrochemical devices at low temperatures but also show a practical approach to obtain tailored properties of a mixture system via modifying molecular interactions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
- Surfaces, Coatings and Films
- Materials Chemistry