Electrochemical Energy Storage

Image Placeholder
Mesoporous LiMn2O4 thin film cathode

The Tolbert group energy storage effort is focused in two directions: one effort is on the development of pseudocapacitors, which are nanostructured materials that show redox reactions similar to traditional batteries, but with significantly faster rates. For these materials controlled nanoscale architecture can reduce diffusion lengths, and can fundamental change the nature of the lithium ion insertion process by kinetically suppressing phase transitions that are at the heart of kinetically slow ion intercalation. This work combines a remarkable combination of very fundamental work on the nature of lithium intercalation induced phase transitions in nanoscale materials, with very practical applications in fast charging batteries. The other area of energy storage where the Tolbert group has made significant contributions is the use of nanoporous architectures to stabilize very high capacity battery anodes, particular those based on main group elements. Here the Tolbert group has used a unique combination of materials synthesis and direct nanoscale X-ray imaging to understand how control of nanoscale structure can be used to increase cycle life in materials that are considered to be some of the most promising candidates for next generation anode materials.