Polyoxometalate Heterogeneous Nanostructures As Cathodes for Mg2+ Ion Storage

Wednesday, 4 October 2017
Prince George's Exhibit Hall D/E (Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center)
H. K. Henry (University of Maryland) and S. B. Lee (Nanostructures for Electrical Energy Storage (NEES), University of Maryland)
As global energy demands continue to rise each year, current state-of-the-art Li-ion battery (LIB) systems are predicted to reach the limit in the amount of energy that they can supply. In addition to this, LIBs are also limited by the low resource availability of Li metal. One proposed solution is to move away from LIBs to multivalent ion systems; of these alternatives, magnesium (Mg) is considered a promising material for the next generation of rechargeable batteries. Unlike Li, Mg metal does not form dendritic structures during cycling which would allow it to be employed as an anode which has a specific capacity of 2205 mAh/g compared to 777 mAh/g of the graphite anode that is currently used in LIBs. Mg also has a very high elemental abundance in the earth’s crust (2.44x104 ppm) which would drive down the production cost while simultaneously ensuring the longevity of these batteries in terms resource availability. Most importantly, the divalent nature of the Mg-ion means that it can carry twice the amount of charge per ion compared to Li. This is largely related to the high volumetric capacity (3833 mAh/ml) of Mg which is superior to even that of Li metal. While there is potential for Mg to replace LIBs, commercialization of these batteries has been hindered by sluggish insertion kinetics into cathode host materials as a direct result of the strong coulombic interactions experienced by the divalent Mg-ion. Due to this drawback, conventional metal oxide or sulfide insertion cathodes for Mg batteries tend to exhibit low capacities and operating voltages. In response to this, a large portion of Mg battery research is currently focused on the development of novel materials capable of functioning as cathodes for fast and efficient Mg-ion insertion. The idea proposed in this work is to depart from the conventional intercalation mechanism of LIBs and move towards a molecular cluster battery (MCB) based on polyoxometalate (POM) metal oxygen cluster molecules of early transition metals (Mo, W, V, or Nb). The unique redox activity of POMs are due to their intrinsic ability to form highly stable reduced and oxidized species allowing them to partake in fast reversible electron transfer reactions. Although POMs are also able to function as electron reservoirs, POMs themselves have negligible electronic conductivity as well as high solubility in both aqueous and organic media. Therefore, in order for these materials to be used as electrodes for electrochemical energy storage, they must first undergo hybridization with highly conductive insoluble substrates such as conductive organic polymers (COPs) or multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). The fabrication of heterogenous cathodes provide a “wiring” effect by electrically connecting the POM molecules allowing them all to take part in the redox chemistry while simultaneously anchoring them to a substrate, thus preventing any loss of active material to electrolyte dissolution during cycling. By taking advantage of the synergistic effect of pairing the ionically conductive POM molecule with the electrically conductive substrate; the resulting cathode material will thus be capable of fast electron transfer reactions with high ionic mobility. In this work, hybrid nanostructured electrodes of poly-3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene (PEDOT) and a phosphomolybdic acid (H3PMo12O40) POM have been fabricated electrochemically and applied as cathodes for Mg-ion storage. Preliminary cyclic voltammetry and galvanostatic cycling data have demonstrated an enhancement in the capacity of the PEDOT cathode after integration of the POM molecules throughout the polymer matrix. The initial cycling studies have also shown that the PEDOT-POM redox peaks are still present after 7 days of soaking in the organic electrolyte which suggests that the POM molecules do not readily dissolve out of the PEDOT matrix. This work highlights the potential of redox active POM inorganic clusters to function as cathodes with the capability of advancing the current state of Mg batteries.