Design of Nanomaterials for Electrochemical Energy Storage
- Yang Shao-Horn (group co-leader)
- Gerbrand Ceder (group co-leader)
- Angela Belcher
- Kimberley Hamad-Schifferli
- Nicola Marzari
- Carl Thompson
Research Goals: Electrochemical devices such as Li batteries, and fuel cells that operate on hydrogen produced from solar energy, are promising technologies to buffer the supply and demand of energy, particularly for portable power and hybrid propulsion in transportation. Meeting the demands of these applications requires new ideas to design materials with tailored reactivity toward Li for Li batteries, and catalysts with markedly higher activity towards oxygen reduction reactions (ORR) in fuel cells. Nanomaterials offer great promise in lithium storage, while new opportunities exist in the discovery of new ORR catalysts by controlling the surface atomic structure and chemistry. A rational design of nanomaterials will require that one develops a fundamental understanding of how composition, size, shape, and surface modify the thermodynamic and kinetic properties of materials at the nanoscale.
The objective of this IRG is on the one hand to use electrochemistry to accurately determine how thermodynamics, phase stability, and kinetics are modified at the nanoscale, and on the other hand to apply that knowledge to engineer materials with high-energy, high-power Li storage capabilities, and to design nanocatalysts with superior ORR activity and reduced noble metal content. Preliminary evidence suggests that reduction of particle size to the nanometer scale in these applications leads to novel behavior, well beyond what would be expected from the availability of more surface area alone.