This breadth of expertise, combined with a collaborative approach, enables fundamental breakthroughs that are needed for discovery of new materials for efficient energy conversion and energy storage in various environments. These environments span a range from two-phase aqueous and organic liquid solutions to three-phase hybrid solid-solid-liquid systems and all the way to an entire solid-solid-solid system.
A variety of state-of-the-art in situ characterization methods are available for determining the nature and structure of electrochemical interfaces in aqueous-based environments. These methods range from surface imaging and synchrotron-based techniques to vibrational spectroscopies and electrochemical characterization tools. State-of-the-art computational techniques are used to gain insight into the nature and structure of the interfaces and reactions mechanisms to help design new materials. Researchers in this theme explore a broad range of materials that are tailored with specific size and composition of clusters, nanoparticles, and electrolytes — this involves metals, metal/metal-oxides, pure oxides, sulfur-based and carbon-based materials as well as aqueous electrolytes with a wide pH range. Impact areas are broad, encompassing efficient hydrogen and oxygen production and utilization in electrolyzers and fuel cells, selective synthesis of hydrocarbon fuels from CO2 in both electrochemical and gas phase environments, and electrochemical ammonia synthesis.
For electrical energy storage systems, the key objective is to extend the experimental and theoretical approach described above to characterize interfaces at atomic and molecular levels in organic solvents. The focus is on developing a fundamental understanding of materials properties of Na-ion, Li-ion and beyond-Li ion batteries that will lead to novel materials and electrolytes for advanced performance. In addition, emphasis is placed on building a bridge between artificially partitioned chemistries in aqueous and organic environments. Research in this theme is closely connected with CSE and JCESR strategic programs for discovering chemistries that go beyond Li-ion systems, as well as Li-ion systems.
New research is directed towards investigating and understanding the properties of electrochemical interfaces that define charge-discharge processes of both the hybrid solid-solid-liquid as well as the solid-state Li-ion battery. The research program is multifaceted with a focus on the complex interfacial and bulk physics and chemistry of the Li-ion transfer through solid-solid interfaces and the stability of electrode materials and electrolytes. Theory serves as a complement to experiments, enabling insight into both ion transport kinetics across the interface as well as the electronic and defect structure at solid-solid interfaces.
The team members are world leaders in the field of surface electrochemistry, synthesis, characterization, and theory which, in combination with the outstanding resources available in MSD, APS, EMS, CNM, CSE, JCESR, MICCoM, and CEES-EFRCs, are playing a vital role in realizing the key strategic energy goals of Argonne and DOE.