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  1. Abstract The transport of protons is critical in a variety of bio- and electro-chemical processes and technologies. The Grotthuss mechanism is considered to be the most efficient proton transport mechanism, generally implying a transfer of protons between ‘chains’ of host molecules via elementary reactions within the hydrogen bonds. Although Grotthuss proposed this concept more than 200 years ago, only indirect experimental evidence of the mechanism has been observed. Here we report the first experimental observation of proton transfer between the molecules in pure and 85% aqueous phosphoric acid. Employing dielectric spectroscopy, quasielastic neutron, and light scattering, and ab initio molecular dynamic simulations we determined that protons move by surprisingly short jumps of only ~0.5–0.7 Å, much smaller than the typical ion jump length in ionic liquids. Our analysis confirms the existence of correlations in these proton jumps. However, these correlations actually reduce the conductivity, in contrast to a desirable enhancement, as is usually assumed by a Grotthuss mechanism. Furthermore, our analysis suggests that the expected Grotthuss-like enhancement of conductivity cannot be realized in bulk liquids where ionic correlations always decrease conductivity. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2024
  2. Sodium metal batteries are an emerging technology that shows promise in terms of materials availability with respect to lithium batteries. Solid electrolytes are needed to tackle the safety issues related to sodium metal. In this work, a simple method to prepare a mechanically robust and efficient soft solid electrolyte for sodium batteries is demonstrated. A task-specific iongel electrolyte was prepared by combining in a simple process the excellent performance of sodium metal electrodes of an ionic liquid electrolyte and the mechanical properties of polymers. The iongel was synthesized by fast (<1 min) UV photopolymerization of poly(ethylene glycol) diacrylate (PEGDA) in the presence of a saturated 42%mol solution of sodium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (NaFSI) in trimethyl iso-butyl phosphonium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (P111i4FSI). The resulting soft solid electrolytes showed high ionic conductivity at room temperature (≥10−3 S cm−1) and tunable storage modulus (104–107 Pa). Iongel with the best ionic conductivity and good mechanical properties (Iongel10) showed excellent battery performance: Na/iongel/NaFePO4 full cells delivered a high specific capacity of 140 mAh g−1 at 0.1 C and 120 mAh g−1 at 1 C with good capacity retention after 30 cycles. 
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  3. Hexamethylguanidinium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide ([HMG][FSI]) has recently been shown to be a promising solid state organic ionic plastic crystal with potential application in advanced alkali metal batteries. This study provides a detailed exploration of the structural and dynamic behavior of [HMG][FSI] mixtures with the sodium salt NaFSI across the whole composition range from 0 to 100 mol%. All mixtures are solids at room temperature. A combination of differential scanning calorimetry (DSC), synchrotron X-ray diffraction (SXRD) and multinuclear solid state NMR spectroscopy is employed to identify a partial phase diagram. The 25 mol% NaFSI/75 mol% [HMG][FSI] composition presents as the eutectic composition with the eutectic transition temperature at 44 °C. Both DSC and SXRD strongly support the formation of a new compound near 50 mol% NaFSI. Interestingly, the 53 mol% NaFSI [HMG][FSI] composition was consistently found to display features of a pure compound whereas the 50 mol% materials always showed a second phase. Many of the compositions examined showed unusual metastable behaviour. Moreover, the ion dynamics as determined by NMR, indicate that the Na + and FSI − anions are signifcantly more mobile than the HMG cation in the liquid state (including the metastable state) for these materials. 
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