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Research

clear circular containers in an electrochemical energy materials laboratory

Surging world energy demand and diminishing reserves of fossil fuels have intensified the pursuit for green, high-performance, cost-effective and sustainable energy storage technologies. Batteries that store high-energy densities play a large role in the implementation of green energy technologies and non-petroleum vehicular mobility. Whereas Li-ion batteries offer the highest energy density among present battery technologies, there are still challenges remaining to be solved such as limited Li sources, cost, safety and stability. Alternative rechargeable battery systems with transporting ions beyond Li (e.g., Na+) have attracted renewed interests in recent years due to their low cost, abundance, and environmental benignity. However, identifying suitable electrodes in these emerging systems remains a scientific challenge.

Size and morphology are crucial factors that can affect the electrochemical properties of an electrode. Nano-sized electrode materials with different morphologies have shown improved kinetics and mechanical strength compared to their bulk counterparts. Thus, the objective of the EEML is to develop nano-architectured electrode materials, with precisely-controlled properties, to meet the energy storage and conversion challenges.

Interfaces/interphases are critical components in electrochemical systems (e.g., rechargeable batteries). Understanding the structure, chemical and electrochemical stability,¬† and growth mechanism of these interfaces/interphases is important for the development of advanced high performance energy systems. At EEML we are interested in utilizing the state-of-the-art environmental AFM (with SECM and KPFM modules) to monitor and understand the surface chemistry of electrode materials; designing and discovering new composite electrode materials with tailor interfaces; and advanced ex-situ and in-situ characterization (synchroton spectroscopies, analytical TEM…) to elucidate the role of interfaces.

The current research interests in the EEML include but not limited to:

  • Electrochemical Synthesis of ¬†Nanostructured Electrode Materials with Controlled Size and Shape
  • Advanced Functional Electrode Materials for Alternative Battery Systems (e.g. Na-ion, Zn-ion batteries)
  • Defect and Interface Engineering
  • Ion Irradiation Effect on Electrode Materials
  • In-situ and Operando Characterization (synchrotron, Raman, EC-AFM, TEM…) of Electrochemical Processes at Electrode Materials
  • Electrochemical Pseudocapacitors
  • Nanostructured Electrocatalysts
  • Hybrid Energy Storage System

Research Sponsors

 

Logos: NSP, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, US Dept of Energy, Office of Naval Research