Assessment of Simple Models for Molecular Simulation of Ethylene Carbonate and Propylene Carbonate as Solvents for Electrolyte Solutions
Progress in understanding liquid ethylene carbonate (EC) and propylene carbonate (PC) on the basis of molecular simulation, emphasizing simple models of interatomic forces, is reviewed. Results on the bulk liquids are examined from the perspective of anticipated applications to materials for electrical energy storage devices. Preliminary results on electrochemical double-layer capacitors based on carbon nanotube forests and on model solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers of lithium ion batteries are considered as examples. The basic results discussed suggest that an empirically parameterized, non-polarizable force field can reproduce experimental structural, thermodynamic, and dielectric properties of EC and PC liquids with acceptable accuracy. More sophisticated force fields might include molecular polarizability and Buckingham-model description of inter-atomic overlap repulsions as extensions to Lennard-Jones models of van der Waals interactions. Simple approaches should be similarly successful also for applications to organic molecular ions in EC/PC solutions, but the important case of Li+ deserves special attention because of the particularly strong interactions of that small ion with neighboring solvent molecules. To treat the Li+ ions in liquid EC/PC solutions, we identify interaction models defined by empirically scaled partial charges for ion-solvent interactions. The empirical adjustments use more basic inputs, electronic structure calculations and ab initio molecular dynamics simulations, and also experimental results on Li+ thermodynamics and transport in EC/PC solutions. Application of such models to the mechanism of Li+ transport in glassy SEI models emphasizes the advantage of long time-scale molecular dynamics studies of these non-equilibrium materials.
KeywordsLi-ion battery Molecular dynamics simulations Propylene carbonate Ethylene carbonate
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