JCESR lays foundation for safer, longer-lasting batteries

Electricity storage in batteries is in ever increasing demand for smartphones, laptops, cars and the power grid. Solid-state batteries are among the most promising next-generation technologies because they offer a higher ...

Scientists get a sneak peek of a key process in battery 'life'

Researchers from the Skoltech Center for Energy Science and Technology (CEST) visualized the formation of a solid electrolyte interphase on battery-grade carbonaceous electrode materials using in situ atomic force microscopy ...

Single atom layer trap for lithium-ion migration

On April 14th, Prof. Ma Cheng from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and his colleagues reported an important discovery regarding the mechanism of Li-ion migration ...

Untwisting plastics for charging Internet-of-Things devices

Untwisting chains of atoms within a plastic polymer improves its ability to conduct electricity, according to a report by researchers, led by Nagoya University applied physicist Hisaaki Tanaka, in the journal Science Advances. ...

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Electrolyte

In chemistry, an electrolyte is any substance containing free ions that make the substance electrically conductive. The most typical electrolyte is an ionic solution, but molten electrolytes and solid electrolytes are also possible.

Commonly, electrolytes are solutions of acids, bases or salts. Furthermore, some gases may act as electrolytes under conditions of high temperature or low pressure. Electrolyte solutions can also result from the dissolution of some biological (e.g., DNA, polypeptides) and synthetic polymers (e.g., polystyrene sulfonate), termed polyelectrolytes, which contain charged functional groups.

Electrolyte solutions are normally formed when a salt is placed into a solvent such as water and the individual components dissociate due to the thermodynamic interactions between solvent and solute molecules, in a process called solvation. For example, when table salt, NaCl, is placed in water, the salt (a solid) dissolves into its component ions, according to the dissociation reaction

It is also possible for substances to react with water producing ions, e.g., carbon dioxide gas dissolves in water to produce a solution which contains hydronium, carbonate, and hydrogen carbonate ions.

Note that molten salts can be electrolytes as well. For instance, when sodium chloride is molten, the liquid conducts electricity.

An electrolyte in a solution may be described as concentrated if it has a high concentration of ions, or dilute if it has a low concentration. If a high proportion of the solute dissociates to form free ions, the electrolyte is strong; if most of the solute does not dissociate, the electrolyte is weak. The properties of electrolytes may be exploited using electrolysis to extract constituent elements and compounds contained within the solution.

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