End-capping of hydrogen bonds: A strategy for blocking the proton conduction pathway in aqueous electrolytes

Zhiming Zhao, Jun Yin, Jian Yin, Xianrong Guo, Yongjiu Lei, Zhengnan Tian, Yunpei Zhu, Omar F. Mohammed, Husam N. Alshareef*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Sustainable battery development is becoming a key goal for storing renewable energy on a large scale. Toward this goal, great hopes are placed on the use of aqueous electrolytes. However, with high expectations, come increasing challenges, represented by the parasitic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) on the anode of aqueous batteries. Here, we propose a new strategy to mitigate HER in aqueous batteries by the regulation of mass transfer kinetics, namely blocking the pathway of proton conduction by the end-capping of H-bond using N-methyl-2-pyrrolidone (NMP). The NMP structure possesses the H-bond acceptor but no H-bond donor sites, a feature that can effectively cut off H-bond propagation, and further block the pathway of proton transport in aqueous electrolytes. Hence, the modulated electrolyte confers a combination of enhanced cathodic and anodic stability, dendrite-free metal plating/stripping, and a high average Coulombic efficiency (CE) of 99.2%. Further, the end-capping of the H-bond network in electrolytes results in substantially more stable full-cell batteries that pair the metal anode with Prussian blue analogue (PBA) and polyaniline (PANI) cathodes at both room and low temperature. The “end-capping” concept in polymers is broadened to aqueous solutions for the first time here, providing a potential direction to revolutionize aqueous batteries for efficient energy storage.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalEnergy Storage Materials
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Research reported in this publication was supported by King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier B.V.


  • Aqueous batteries
  • Aqueous solvent configuration
  • End-capping of H-bond
  • Hydrogen evolution reaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • General Materials Science
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology


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