Research overview

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Energy materials are essential for the transition towards sustainable technology. They are key to high-performance energy storage, energy harvesting, energy-efficient generation of drinking water, the selective extraction of ionic pollutants, and the recovery of precious elements. Present-day energy storage applications include Li-, Na-, and K-ion batteries, supercapacitors, pseudocapacitors, and hybrid devices. Current water remediation technologies include capacitive deionization and desalination batteries. Emerging applications also include electrochemical sensors and (photo)catalysis.

Our team synthesizes, characterizes, and applies electroactive interfaces and functional nanomaterials. In most applications, it is necessary to synergize electrochemical activity and electrical conductivity. This can be accomplished by hybridizing nanoscaled carbon interfaces with Faradaic materials. We can do so by use of sol-gel processes, atomic-layer and chemical vapor desposition, electrospinning, and other methods. On the side of carbon materials, we utilize non-porous carbon nanoparticles (carbon onions, carbon black) and nanoporous carbons (activated carbons, carbide-derived carbon, polymer-derived carbon, carbon nanofibers). On the side of electroactive materials, we explore metal oxides, carbides, nitrides, and sulfides. Examples of these materials include the fast-growing group of MXene, transition metal dichalcogenides, and Prussian Blue.

Not all promising energy materials are solids. Liquid redox electrolytes capitalize on the rapid charge transfer when in nanoconfined; utilized as nanoreactors, nanoporous carbons combined with redox electrolytes enable the unique combination of battery-like energy storage while maintaining supercapacitor-like charge/discharge rates.

We focus on a comprehensive array of materials characterization techniques and in-situ methods to gain novel insights into electrochemical processes. This is complemented by the creation of a digital twin of our energy materials to identify novel approaches for material design and to target experimental work by high-throughput data analysis. Our contributions extend from basic research, materials synthesis, and the refinement of testing procedures to industrial collaboration and technology development.