Fluoroether solvents are promising electrolyte candidates for high-energy-density lithium metal bat- teries, where high ionic conductivity and oxidative stability are important metrics for design of new systems. Recent experiments have shown that these performance metrics, particularly stability, can be tuned by changing the fraction of ether and fluorine content. However, little is known about how different molecular architectures influence the underlying ion transport mechanisms and conductivity. Here, we use all-atom molecular dynamics simulations to elucidate the ion transport and solvation characteristics of fluoroether chains of varying length, and having different ether segment and flu- orine terminal group contents. The design rules that emerge from this effort are that solvent size determines lithium-ion transport kinetics, solvation structure, and solvation energy. In particular, the mechanism for lithium-ion transport is found to shift from ion hopping between solvation sites located in different fluoroether chains in short-chain solvents, to ion-solvent co-diffusion in long-chain solvents, indicating that an optimum exists for molecules of intermediate length, where hopping is possible but solvent diffusion is fast. Consistent with these findings, our experimental measurements reveal a non-monotonic behavior of the effects of solvent size on lithium-ion conductivity, with a maximum occurring for medium-length solvent chains. A key design principle for achieving high ionic conductivity is that a trade-off is required between relying on shorter fluoroether chains having high self-diffusivity, and relying on longer chains that increase the stability of local solvation shells.
Supporting Information for “Molecular Engineering of Fluoroether Electrolytes for Lithium Metal Batteries”
Discussion of charge re-scaling effects; MD simulation details; comparison to experimental data; discussion of radial distribu- tion functions; discussion of lithium-ion hopping studies; lithium- ion binding motifs; experimental data of ion conductivity; glass transition temperature calculations; lithium-ion mean square dis- placement plots in logarithmic scale.