Metallic zinc (Zn) has been regarded as an ideal anode material for aqueous batteries because of its high theoretical capacity (820 mA h g–1), low potential (−0.762 V versus the standard hydrogen electrode), high abundance, low toxicity and intrinsic safety. However, aqueous Zn chemistry persistently suffers from irreversibility issues, as exemplified by its low coulombic efficiency (CE) and dendrite growth during plating/ stripping, and sustained water consumption. In this work, we demonstrate that an aqueous electrolyte based on Zn and lithium salts at high concentrations is a very effective way to address these issues. This unique electrolyte not only enables dendrite-free Zn plating/stripping at nearly 100% CE, but also retains water in the open atmosphere, which makes hermetic cell configurations optional. These merits bring unprecedented flexibility and reversibility to Zn batteries using either LiMn2O4 or O2 cathodes—the former deliver 180 W h kg–1 while retaining 80% capacity for >4,000 cycles, and the latter deliver 300 W h kg–1 (1,000 W h kg–1 based on the cathode) for >200 cycles.

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The principal investigators (K.X. and C.W.) gratefully acknowledge funding support from DOE ARPA-E (DEAR0000389) and the Center of Research on Extreme Batteries. We also acknowledge the support of the Maryland Nano Center and its NispLab. NispLab is supported in part by the NSF as a MRSEC Shared Experimental Facility. O.B. acknowledges Army funding DRI16-SE-019 for modelling. F.W. was supported by the Oak Ridge Associated Universities through contract W911NF-16-2-0202.

Author information


  1. Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park, MD, USA

    • Fei Wang
    • , Tao Gao
    • , Xiulin Fan
    • , Wei Sun
    • , Fudong Han
    •  & Chunsheng Wang
  2. Electrochemistry Branch, Sensor and Electron Devices Directorate, Power and Energy Division, US Army Research Laboratory, Adelphi, MD, USA

    • Fei Wang
    • , Oleg Borodin
    •  & Kang Xu
  3. NIST Center for Neutron Research, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, USA

    • Antonio Faraone
    •  & Joseph A Dura


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F.W., K.X. and C.W. conceived the idea and co-wrote the manuscript. O.B. conducted the MD simulations and DFT calculations. A.F. and J.A.D. conducted the SANS measurements. F.W. carried out the synthesis, material characterizations, and electrochemical evaluation. T.G., X.F., W.S. and F.H. assisted with the material characterizations.

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Correspondence to Chunsheng Wang.

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