New high-performance electrolytes — based on a newly discovered family of ionic liquids — will soon be a reality thanks to researchers at CIDETEC in the Basque Country and the Photovoltaic and Optoelectronic Devices Group at the Universitat Jaume I. The new electrolytes will result in the notably improved performance, stability, and durability of a variety of electronic and electrochemical devices, according to the researchers.
The new electrolytes don’t contain any additional solvents or water, and they are completely compatible with the inorganic materials which are commonly used in dye-sensitized solar cells and batteries — the two types of electronics which would probably benefit the most from the new electrolytes.
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These materials have the peculiarity of presenting sulphide or polysulphide, a non-volatile ionic liquid that has high ion conductivity and enables to use it at much higher temperatures. This technology has a promising field of application in the manufacture of batteries with higher energy density. Faced with ion-lithium batteries, the batteries based on lithium-sulphur provide a three times higher autonomy, but without increasing their size and weight, and with a lower cost. Solar cells are also presented as an attractive alternative to reduce production costs, improving aspects such as stability and durability to make them more profitable, and turning photovoltaic electricity into a safe, clean and sustainable choice.
The new electrolytes — which are already fully developed and have been patented — are currently undergoing conceptual testing with regard to their use in batteries, partly as a means to verify the properties of the electrolytes in a direct industrial application. With regard to potential applications in solar cells, the electrolytes have already been tested in solar cells with quantum dots, and the results were “excellent” with regard to device stability when compared to existing technologies.
Other potential areas of application which the researchers mention are electrochromic devices, electrochemical biosensors, and electrodeposition coating materials.