Skip to main content

Doctoral student powers battery optimization for interstellar exploration

Since the launch of Explorer in 1958, energy storage devices have been utilized in all robotic spacecraft expeditions conducted by NASA. With future space exploration on the horizon to outer planets, inner planets and stops in between, the demand for better and longer lasting batteries is crucial for the success of space exploration.

In steps Cyrus Koroni.

Koroni is a doctoral student in the College of Engineering’s Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering and has been named a 2022 NASA Idaho Space Grant Consortium fellow for his lithium battery research.

“I am so honored to have been chosen for such a fellowship,” Koroni said. “You always hear about all the cool things that NASA has accomplished, so to be recognized by them is an amazing opportunity.”

In the Micron School of Materials Science and Engineering, Cyrus researches in the Electrochemical Energy Materials Laboratory under the mentorship of Claire Xiong.

“As an early Ph.D student I’ve depended on her quite a bit for support and guidance,” Koroni said. “Dr. Xiong has been a great mentor, always pushing me toward my goals and providing me with the perfect advice for success in my research.”

Materials scientists like Koroni and Xiong research and develop advanced nanomaterials to improve the standards of devices and make more efficient, sustainable energy systems. Koroni’s proposal, titled, “Ion Irradiation Effects on Niobium Oxide Nanostructures for use in Li-ion Batteries” will focus on supplying more efficient and higher quality batteries to potential NASA missions.

“In my research, we hope to modify the properties of the anode, niobium oxide, by ion irradiation to improve the overall performance and capacity of batteries,” Koroni said.

NASA’s Planetary Science Division’s potential missions to outer planets, inner planets, Mars and even smaller bodies demand a higher capacity and performance of rechargeable batteries. As robotic spacecraft exploration relies heavily on solar powered missions, providing higher quality battery storage is crucial to the success of current and future NASA missions, especially during eclipse periods.

Koroni, a two-time graduate of California State University, Long Beach, is the second graduate student in Xiong’s Electrochemical Energy Materials Lab to receive a national fellowship this year. Koroni is also the second materials science and engineering student to receive a 2022 Idaho Space Grant Consortium fellowship this year, alongside classmate Ally Almarez.