Conception and industrial production of viable high specific energy/power batteries is a central issue for the development of non-polluting vehicles. In terms of stored energy and safety, solid-state devices using polymer electrolytes are highly desirable. One of the most studied systems is PEO (polyethylene oxide) complexed by Li salts. Polymer segmental motions and ionic conductivity are closely related. Bulk PEO is actually a biphasic system where an amorphous and a crystalline state (Tg ≈ 213 K, Tm ≈ 335 K) coexist. To improve ionic conduction in those systems requires a significant increase of the amorphous phase fraction where lithium conduction is known to mainly take place. Confinement strongly affects properties of condensed matter and in particular the collective phenomena inducing crystallization. Confinement of the polymer matrix is therefore a possible alternative route to the impractical use of high temperature.
Results of a quasi-elastic incoherent neutron scattering study of the influence of confinement on polyethylene oxide (PEO) and (PEO)8Li+[(CF3SO2)2N]− (or (POE)8LiTFSI) dynamics are presented. The nano-confining media is Vycor, a silica based hydrophilic porous glass (characteristic size of the 3D pore network ≈ 50 Å). As expected, the presence of Li salt slows down the bulk polymer dynamics. The confinement also affects dramatically the apparent mean-square displacement of the polymer. Local relaxational PEO dynamics is described KWW model. We also present an alternate model and show how the detailed polymer dynamics (correlation times and local geometry of the motions) can be described without the use of such stretched exponentials so as to access a rheology-related meaningful physical quantity: the monomeric friction coefficient.