An organic cathode material based on a copolymer of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) containing pyridine and hydroquinone functionalities is described as a proton trap technology. Utilizing the quinone to hydroquinone redox conversion, this technology leads to electrode materials compatible with lithium and sodium cycling chemistries. These materials have high inherent potentials that in combination with lithium give a reversible output voltage of above 3.5 V (vs Li0/+) without relying on lithiation of the material, something that is not showed for quinones previously. Key to success stems from coupling an intrapolymeric proton transfer, realized by an incorporated pyridine proton donor/acceptor functionality, with the hydroquinone redox reactions. Trapping of protons in the cathode material effectively decouples the quinone redox chemistry from the cycling chemistry of the anode, which makes the material insensitive to the nature of the electrolyte cation and hence compatible with several anode materials. Furthermore, the conducting polymer backbone allows assembly without any additives for electronic conductivity. The concept is demonstrated by electrochemical characterization in several electrolytes and finally by employing the proton trap material as the cathode in lithium and sodium batteries. These findings represent a new concept for enabling high potential organic materials for the next generation of energy storage systems.
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