Transitioning to a sustainable electric vehicle future requires advanced energy storage technology creating the impetus to develop the next super battery. However lithium ion continues to improve and has substantial inertia in the EV market. Recent material breakthroughs in solid-electrolytes could enable a new class of non-combustible solid-state batteries delivering twice the energy density (>1,300 Wh/L) compared to lithium ion. While tremendous progress in laboratories has been made, technological and manufacturing challenges remain, creating the urgent need for fundamental and applied research.
Our group focuses on the research and development of solid-state battery materials, transforming these materials into commercially-relevant components, and understanding the underpinning mechanisms that control their performance and degradation. The types of materials we study are ceramic ion conductors, lithium and sodium metal, and a broad range of non-metal electrodes to include conventional lithium ion cathodes, sulfur, and liquid electrodes (for long duration energy flow cells). Within this subset of materials, we seek to understand their:
- electrochemical behavior such as ionic and electronic conductivity and stability
- mechanical behavior such as fracture, creep, formability, and elastic and plastic deformation
- correlations between physical properties and processing conditions such as density, impurities, defects, microstructure, surface chemistry, and wettability
It is the integration of the fundamental knowledge gained from these material studies with the characterization of prototype components and advanced batteries that gives us insight into the coupling of mechanical and electrochemical phenomena – also referred to as mechano-electrochemical phenomena.
To expand our knowledge, our group closely interacts with myriad disciplines both nationally and internationally to include materials science and engineering, mechanical and chemical engineering, physical chemistry, physics, inorganic and organic chemistry, operando and in-situ characterization (from atoms to the macro scale), and computation (atomistic to the continuum scale).
The overarching goal of our group is to conduct fundamental and applied research in the field of electrochemical energy storage to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles.
Scientific Research Goal: Integrate the fields of materials science, electrochemistry, and solid-state mechanics to understand the mechano-electrochemical phenomena underlying the manufacturing and operation of ceramics for advanced electrochemical technologies.
Scientific Research Vision: Fundamental knowledge advances electrochemical energy storage systems such as; solid-state and electrical grid batteries.
- The continued reliance on internal combustion engines (ICE) for transportation is rapidly depleting fossil fuels reserves, changing the climate, and impacting air quality.
- What replaces ICE technology must dramatically reduce AND eventually eliminate the net reliance on fossil fuels.
- The supplanting technology must be sustainable and accessible to ALL while achieving performance, cost, and safety parity with ICE technology.
Solution: Compared to ICE, electrochemical technologies are significantly more efficient in converting chemical energy into mechanical energy. Li-ion batteries are the leading electrochemical technology to power EVs, but issues remain such as; “range anxiety”, cost, safety, and sustainability. Hence, there is clear motivation to develop a new generation of batteries for EVs with high performance (>400 Wh/kg and >1,200 Wh/L), low cost (<$80/kWh), long cycle life (>>1000 cycles), and improved safety. Moreover, achieving the widespread adoption of EVs will require substantially higher electrical grid capacity. While electrical power generation from wind and solar is expanding, complementarity, low cost (<$10/kWh) electrical energy storage lags behind in maturity. To transition from the untenable reliance on fossil fuels to a sustainable energy future, there is a great unmet need to develop advanced batteries for EVs and grid storage.