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Quantifying Species Populations in Multivalent Borohydride Electrolytes


Multivalent batteries represent an important beyond Li-ion energy storage concept. The prospect of calcium batteries, in particular, has emerged recently due to novel electrolyte demonstrations, especially that of a ground-breaking combination of the borohydride salt Ca(BH4)2 dissolved in tetrahydrofuran. Recent analysis of magnesium and calcium versions of this electrolyte led to the identification of divergent speciation pathways for Mg2+ and Ca2+ despite identical anions and solvents, owing to differences in cation size and attendant flexibility of coordination. To test these proposed speciation equilibria and develop a more quantitative understanding thereof, we have applied pulsed-field-gradient nuclear magnetic resonance and dielectric relaxation spectroscopy to study these electrolytes. Concentration-dependent variation in anion diffusivities and solution dipole relaxations, interpreted with the aid of molecular dynamics simulations, confirms these divergent Mg2+ and Ca2+ speciation pathways. These results provide a more quantitative description of the electroactive species populations. We find that these species are present in relatively small quantities, even in the highly active Ca(BH4)2/tetrahydrofuran electrolyte. This finding helps interpret previous characterizations of metal deposition efficiency and morphology control and thus provides important fundamental insight into the dynamic properties of multivalent electrolytes for next-generation batteries.

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