Organic electrode materials offer unique opportunities to utilize ion-electrode interactions to develop diverse, versatile, and high-performing secondary batteries, particularly for applications requiring high power densities. However, a lack of well-defined structure-property relationships for redox-active organic materials restricts the advancement of the field. Herein, we investigate a family of diimide-based polymer materials with several charge-compensating ions (Li+, Na+, K+) in order to systematically probe how redox-active moeity, ion, and polymer flexibility dictate their thermodynamic and kinetic properties. When favorable ion-electrode interactions are employed (e.g., soft K+ anions with soft perylenediimide dianions), the resulting batteries demonstrate increased working potentials and improved cycling stabilities. Further, for all polymers examined herein, we demonstrate that K+ accesses the highest percentage of redox-active groups due to its small solvation shell/energy. Through crown ether experiments, cyclic voltammetry, and activation energy measurements, we provide insights into the charge compensation mechanisms of three different polymer structures and rationalize these findings in terms of the differing degrees of improvements observed when cycling with K+. Critically, we find that the most flexible polymer enables access to the highest fraction of active sites due to the small activation energy barrier during charge/discharge. These results suggest that improved capacities may be accessible by employing more flexible structures. Overall, our in-depth structure-activity investigation demonstrates how variables such as polymer structure and cation can be used to optimize battery performance and enable the realization of novel battery chemistries.
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