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Title: The lightest organic radical cation for charge storage in redox flow batteries

Electrochemically reversible fluids of high energy density are promising materials for capturing the electrical energy generated from intermittent sources like solar and wind. To meet this technological challenge there is a need to understand the fundamental limits and interplay of electrochemical potential, stability and solubility in “lean” derivatives of redox-active molecules. Here we describe the process of molecular pruning, illustrated for 2,5-di-tert-butyl-1,4-bis(2-methoxyethoxy)benzene, a molecule known to produce a persistently stable, high-potential radical cation. By systematically shedding molecular fragments considered important for radical cation steric stabilization, we discovered a minimalistic structure that retains long-term stability in its oxidized form. Interestingly, we find the tert-butyl groups are unnecessary; high stability of the radical cation and high solubility are both realized in derivatives having appropriately positioned arene methyl groups. These stability trends are rationalized by mechanistic considerations of the postulated decomposition pathways. We suggest that the molecular pruning approach will uncover lean redox active derivatives for electrochemical energy storage leading to materials with long-term stability and high intrinsic capacity.
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Journal Article
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Journal Name: Scientific Reports, 6:Article No. 32102
Research Org:
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Richland, WA (US)
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Country of Publication:
United States