Stefanie Arnold gives an oral presentation with the title “Design Matters: The Path to High-Performance Antimony / MXene Hybrid Electrodes for Sodium-Ion Batteries” at the MSE2022 conference in Darmstadt. This was joint work with Riccardo Ruffo‘s team and Stefano Marchionna (Italy).

new paper published in ACS Energy Letters on continuous electrochemical lithium-ion extraction. We used a redox electrolyte “engine” to drive the ion transfer (in our case: potassium ferricyanide). Employing a pair of ceramic lithium superionic conductor (LISICON) membranes meant that only Lithium ions were accessible to the redox electrolyte for charge compensation. And to complement the design, we used an anion exchange membrane to separate the inflow (e.g., seawater) from a recovery solution. By this way, we obtained an electrochemical system for the continuous extraction of Lithium ions. This sets this technology apart from earlier works (including our contributions) that relied on a cyclic operation to obtain ion separation. Yet, this is just one of many more steps towards seeing such technology toward application; future research must critically address cell design, optimization of the Li-membranes, and investigating the robustness and durability of continuous operation.

This work was the result of the collaboration of our Ph.D. students Lei Wang, Stefanie Arnold, Panyu Ren, and our former Postdoc (now group leader at Bavarian Center for Battery Technology (BayBatt)Qingsong Wang, as well as our Chinese collaborators Jun Jin and Zahoyin Wen (Chinese Academy of Sciences).

New paper published in Materials Futures. Sodium-deficient, P2-type layered oxides are promising cathodes for sodium-ion batteries. Their open sodium cation transport pathways lead to low diffusion barriers and enable high charge/discharge rates. However, a phase transition from P2 to O2 structure occurring above 4.2 V and metal dissolution at low potentials upon discharge results in rapid capacity degradation. In this work, we demonstrate the positive effect of configurational entropy on the stability of the crystal structure during battery operation. The high-entropy cathode material shows lower structural transformation and Mn dissolution upon cycling in a wide voltage range from 1.5 V to 4.6 V. Advanced operando techniques and post-mortem analysis were used to thoroughly probe the underlying reaction mechanism. Overall, the high-entropy strategy is a promising route for improving the electrochemical performance of P2 layered oxide cathodes for advanced sodium-ion battery applications.

Behnoosh Bornamehr gives an oral presentation on her research on electrospinning. Her talk is aptly titled “Too fast, too brittle: a study on heat treatment parameters for free-standing vanadium oxide electrodes”.

New paper published in Desalination on the ion selectivity of carbon nanopores. It is well known that electrolyte confinement inside carbon nanopores strongly affects ion electrosorption in capacitive deionization. A thorough understanding of the intricate pore size influence enables enhanced charge storage performance and desalination in addition to ion separation. In subnanometer pores, where the pore size is smaller than hydrated ion size, a dehydration energy barrier must be overcome before the ions can be electrosorbed into the pores. Ion sieving is observed when the dehydration energy is larger than the applied energy. However, when a high electrochemical potential is used, the ions can desolvate and enter the pores. Capitalizing on the difference in size and dehydration energy barriers, this work applies the subnanometer porous carbon material, and a high electrochemical ion selectivity for Cs+ and K+ over Na+, Li+, Mg2+, and Ca2+ is observed. This establishes a viable way for selective heavy metal removal by varying pore and solvated ion sizes. Our work also shows the transition from double-layer capacitance to diffusion-limited electrochemical features in narrow ultramicropores.

Welcome new Ph.D. student Jean Gustavo De Andrade Ruthes! Jean is from the Universidade Federal do Paraná, Brazil, and will be working on MXene / graphene batteries within our Czech-German research collaboration.