Gel for Ion Conduction Applications with Mechanical Strength

As key components of many energy storage and conversion technologies, polymer electrolyte materials allow for selective ion transport in diverse applications such as fuel cell membranes, battery separators, electro-responsive actuators, reverse-osmosis water purifiers, and solar cells. For electrochemical devices, solid-state polymer electrolyte materials deliver safer operation without the leakage, volatility, or flammability issues usually associated with liquid-based electrolytes. However, many practical applications such as lithium-ion batteries are usually restricted to the use of volatile liquid electrolytes to provide efficient ion transport. This invention is a family of ion gels, which are polymeric networks swollen with a large volume fraction of ionic liquids (ILs). As promising candidates for next-generation electrolytes, ion gels possess complementary features such as high ion mobility, light weight, mechanical integrity, and conformable electrode-electrolyte contact. However, many electrolyte applications would benefit from a large and widely adjustable modulus while retaining high ionic mobility along a predetermined axis-- properties that have remained out of reach for known ion gel electrolytes. The current invention is a new liquid crystalline (LC) ion gel that provides an unprecedented combination of tunable properties for use in a wide array of electrochemical devices. These properties include: conductivity up to 8 mS cm-1, thermal stability up to 300°C, electrochemical window greater than 5.4 V, adjustable transport anisotropy (up to a factor 3.5) and high and adjustable elastic modulus (0.003 - 3 GPa). The properties of the current invention are well suited to efficient, safer, and more stable (longer cycling and at higher temperature) batteries. This new disclosure includes new materials, new processes for making these materials, new potential applications, and new proofs of concept.

Patent Information:
For Information, Contact:
Grant Brewer
Senior Licensing Associate
Virginia Tech Intellectual Properties, Inc.
(540) 231-6648
Louis Madsen
Ying Wang