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One-Pot Synthesis of a Double-Network Hydrogel Electrolyte with Extraordinarily Excellent Mechanical Properties for a Highly Compressible and Bendable Flexible Supercapacitor

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journal contribution
posted on 08.08.2018, 00:00 by Tingrui Lin, Mengni Shi, Furong Huang, Jing Peng, Qingwen Bai, Jiuqiang Li, Maolin Zhai
High-performance hydrogel electrolytes play a crucial role in flexible supercapacitors (SCs). However, the unsatisfactory mechanical properties of widely used polyvinyl alcohol-based electrolytes greatly limit their use in the flexible SCs. Here, a novel Li2SO4-containing agarose/polyacrylamide double-network (Li-AG/PAM DN) hydrogel electrolyte was synthesized by a heating–cooling and subsequent radiation-induced polymerization and cross-linking process. The Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte possesses extremely excellent mechanical properties with a compression strength of 150 MPa, a fracture compression strain of above 99.9%, a tensile strength of 1103 kPa, and an elongation at break of 2780%, greatly superior to those have been reported. It also achieves a high ionic conductivity of 41 mS cm–1 originating from its interconnected three-dimensional porous network structure that provides a three-dimensional channel for ionic migration. Compared to the SC applying Li2SO4 aqueous solution electrolyte, the corresponding flexible Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte-SC presents lower charge-transfer resistance, better ionic diffusion, being closer to ideal capacitive behaviors, superior rate capability, and better cycling stability, owing to the improved ionic transport in the Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte and electrode interfaces. Moreover, after testing with overcharge, short circuit, and high temperature, the capacitance of the Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte-SC can still be well maintained. Furthermore, the electrochemical properties of the Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte-SC remain almost intact under different compression strains/bending angles and even after 1000 compression/bending cycles. It is expected that the Li-AG/PAM DN hydrogel electrolyte may have broad applications in modern flexible and wearable electronics.