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Video Transcript – Electrochemical Engineering Materials Lab (EEML) Promo 2021

Hi everyone, I’m Dr. Claire Xiong of Micron School of Material Science and Engineering at Boise State University. Here is a brief introduction on my lab which is called Electrochemical Energy Materials Laboratory.

We are interested in using different sensitive approaches such as electrochemical synthesis, wet chemistry, or solid-state synthesis to make a variety of nano architectures and nanoscale materials. We’re also very keen on understanding the role of defects and disorder in metal oxide electrodes. We have been working on understanding ion irradiation effect in ceramic materials for over seven years. Another focus in my lab is interface engineering at the electro electrolyte interface as well as within complex metal oxide electron materials.

We have a devoted significant effort in developing in-situ and operando characterizations of electromaterials including cyclotron x-ray spectroscopy, raman, FM. and so on. Our current focus of applications of these materials is in rechargeable batteries such as lithium-ion batteries and beyond.

So if you are interested in what we do and would like to join us feel free to contact me and reach out. I’m always looking for great students. Next my students are going to give you a virtual tour of our lab.

Hi welcome to Dr. Claire Xiong’s Electric Energy Material Laboratory where we make batteries. Today we’re going to walk into the process. Every battery requires a positive electrode and here we make the precursors for that. We control PH, temperature, and delivery of our chemicals into the class and they then react to make our precursor.

We then take the precursor and mix them with other materials which we then press into a cup. Upon pressing with the pellet, we then heat them up in one of these two sets of ovens. This set of ovens control the conditions of which those materials eat under, while these two ovens just expose it to open air. The reason why we want to heat up the battery is so we can examine the differences in crystallinity and morphology that may arise. Once we heat up the pallet we then take it to the next stage of the process.

After calcination the material needs to be put in a form fusible in a battery. To do that it’s mixed with carbon and a binder and then laminated over foil to be cut and used in the cell later.

The counter to the positive electrode is the negative electrode. Most of our negative electrodes are formed via electrochemical randomization. So anodization is performed in a solution with an applied voltage. Anodization allows us to control the nanostructure of our material and readies it for construction.

Because lithium is so reactive with air it’ll quickly oxidize rendering completely useless for our purposes, so we work in an argon-filled glove box under an inert atmosphere. We also work with our electrolytes here and the electrolyte is the liquid that sits between the two electrodes preventing charge transfer but allowing the passage of ions that enable battery to function. The electrolyte can have an outside effect on performance of the battery.


So we load our newly made battery into our battery holder and once that’s accomplished then run a plethora of experiments to evaluate the electrochemical performance for a battery, its energy density, and its power.

Work in the EEML also extends up here to the MEC 416 corrosion lab where today we’re doing some high temperature, high pressure studies on zirconium fuel cladding for nuclear reactors. From this setup we’re able to connect it to a potentiostat and gain some electrochemical impedance data that can tell us about surface interactions and material integrity for this gold plating.

We also look into characterizing the materials we make in the EEML through instrumentation at the Boise State Center of Materials Characterization and the Idaho Microfabrication Laboratory. For example here is an SEM scanning electron microscope in which we can visualize the surface of our materials.

We use instruments like the x-ray diffractometer here to determine things like the crystal structure of materials so we can understand structural property relationships.

So we are also working in the surface science and laboratory to study the battery materials with the scanning problem microscope using both FCD and PCT simulations


[Dr. Claire Xiong]
If you are ready for a challenge to develop new materials for a sustainable future I look forward to meeting you.