Transport Mechanisms Underlying Ionic Conductivity in Nanoparticle-Based Single-Ion Electrolytes

Recent studies have demonstrated the potential of nanoparticle-based single-ion conductors as battery electrolytes. In this work, we introduce a coarse-grained multiscale simulation approach to identify the mechanisms underlying the ion mobilities in such systems and to clarify the influence of key design parameters on conductivity. Our results suggest that for the experimentally studied electrolyte systems, the dominant pathway for cation transport is along the surface of nanoparticles, in the vicinity of nanoparticle-tethered anions. At low nanoparticle concentrations, connectivity of cationic surface transport pathways and conductivity increase with nanoparticle loading. However, cation mobilities are reduced when nanoparticles are in close vicinity, causing conductivity to decrease for suffciently high particle loadings. We discuss the impacts of cation and anion choice as well as solvent polarity within this picture and suggest means to enhance ionic conductivities in single-ion conducting electrolytes based on nanoparticle salts.