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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Interfacial Effects on Transport Coefficient Measurements in Li-ion Battery Electrolytes


Development of Li+-containing electrolytes with improved transport properties requires reliable, reproducible, and ideally low volume techniques to rigorously understand ion-transport with varying composition. Precisely measuring the complete set of transport coefficients in liquid electrolytes under battery-relevant operating conditions is difficult and the reliability of these methods are sparsely described in electrolyte transport literature. In this work, we apply a potentiostatic polarization-based transport characterization approach typically used for polymer electrolytes to liquid electrolyte systems in an attempt to fully measure all transport coefficients (conductivity, total salt diffusion coefficient, thermodynamic factor and transference number) for the model system of LiPF6 in an ethylene carbonate - ethyl methyl carbonate (EC:EMC) mixture. Using systematic timescale and statistical analyses, we find that transport coefficients measured using potentiostatic polarization of Li-Li symmetric cells exhibit strong correlation to Li electrode interfacial resistance, indicating that such methods are probing both bulk and interfacial phenomena. This reveals a major roadblock in characterizing electrolyte systems where the interfacial resistance is significantly larger than ohmic electrolyte resistance. As a result, we find that methods that rely on potentiostatic Li metal stripping/plating do not readily result in reliable liquid electrolyte transport coefficients, unlike similar methods for solid polymer electrolytes, where interfacial resistances are typically smaller than electrolyte resistances at the elevated temperatures typically of interest for such electrolytes.

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