Recent News

October 1-5, 2017

The group recently attended the 232nd meeting of the Electrochemical Society in National Harbor, MD.


July 17, 2017

Congratulations to Tyler Cosby for his new article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.


May 11, 2017

Congratulations to Zachariah Vicars on his graduation from UT and his new position as a PhD student at Penn!











Polymerized Ionic Liquids: Correlation of Ionic Conductivity with Nanoscale Morphology and Counterion Volume

The impact of the chemical structure on ion transport, nanoscale morphology, and dynamics in polymerized imidazolium-based ionic liquids is investigated by broadband dielectric spectroscopy and X-ray scattering, complemented with atomistic molecular dynamics simulations. Anion volume is found to correlate strongly with Tg-independent ionic conductivities spanning more than 3 orders of magnitude. In addition, a systematic increase in alkyl side chain length results in about one decade decrease in Tg-independent ionic conductivity correlating with an increase in the characteristic backbone-to-backbone distances found from scattering and simulations. The quantitative comparison between ion sizes, morphology, and ionic conductivity underscores the need for polymerized ionic liquids with small counterions and short alkyl side chain length in order to obtain polymer electrolytes with higher ionic conductivity.

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Dynamic-Mechanical and Dielectric Evidence of Long-Lived Mesoscale Organization in Ionic Liquids

Experimental evidence of the dynamics of mesoscopic structure in room-temperature ionic liquids—a feature expected to correlate with many physicochemical properties of these materials—remains limited. Here, we report the observation of slow, sub-? relaxations corresponding to dynamics of nanoscale hydrophobic aggregates in a systematic series of 1-alkyl-3-methylimidazolium-based ionic liquids from detailed analysis of dynamic-mechanical and broad-band dielectric spectra. The emergence of the sub-? relaxations correlates with increases in the zero-shear viscosity and static dielectric permittivity, constituting direct evidence of the influence of mesoscale aggregation on the physicochemical properties of ionic liquids.

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Probing Nanoscale Ion Dynamics in Ultrathin Films of Polymerized Ionic Liquids by Broadband Dielectric Spectroscopy

Continuous progress in energy storage and conversion technologies necessitates novel experimental approaches that can provide fundamental insights regarding the impact of reduced dimensions on the functional properties of materials. Here, we demonstrate a nondestructive experimental approach to probe nanoscale ion dynamics in ultrathin films of polymerized 1-vinyl-3-ethylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide over a broad frequency range spanning over 6 orders of magnitude by broadband dielectric spectroscopy. The approach involves using an electrode configuration with lithographically patterned silica nanostructures, which allow for an air gap between the confined ion conductor and one of the electrodes. We observe that the characteristic rate of ion dynamics significantly slows down with decreasing film thicknesses above the calorimetric glass transition of the bulk polymer. However, the mean rates remain bulk-like at lower temperatures. These results highlight the increasing influence of the polymer/substrate interactions with decreasing film thickness on ion dynamics.

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