Catalyst-Free, Mechanically Robust, and Ion-Conductive Vitrimers for Self-Healing Ionogel Electrolytes

Zhou, X. et al., ACS Applied Engineering Materials, 2023, accepted,

Vitrimers have been widely employed in self-healing, recyclable, and shape-shifting materials. However, the application of catalyst-free vitrimers to create self-healable and mechanically robust gel polymer electrolytes (GPEs) remains a challenge, often limiting the potential of vitrimer-based materials. Herein, we utilized a catalyst-free dynamic covalent bond (silyl ether) as a linkage to prepare self-healable and mechanically robust GPEs, which are fully reprocessable. By incorporating polymeric ionic liquids into the dynamically cross-linked networks, both ion conductivity and mechanical properties can be flexibly tuned. This dynamic feature enables self-healing and allows for reprocessing via embedding of such dynamic covalent networks into the GPEs, exhibiting good ion conductivites of 0.13 mS/cm at 20 °C and 1.88 mS/cm at 80 °C. Furthermore, the elastic modulus of the GPEs could reach a value of 0.24 MPa and was able to persist through electrode-volume expansions during charging/discharging, indicating promising applications for this type of dynamic bond in sustainable solid electrolytes. Copyright © 2023, American Chemical Society.