Functional materials for electrochemical energy storage and conversion; electrocatalysis for renewable energy and environmental science; materials electrochemistry; batteries; fuel cells
-Nanostructured functional materials for sustainable energy technologies
-Electrocatalysis for energy conversion (metal-air batteries, fuel cells, and water splitting)
-Advanced energy storage materials (batteries and supercapacitors)
-Environmental electrochemistry (electrochemical advanced oxidation, electrochemical sensors, materials corrosion and prevention)
Energy conversion and storage devices relying on electrochemical reactions are among the most important energy technologies of modern day, including low-temperature fuel cells, metal-air batteries, and water electrolyzers. These devices offer many advantages over traditional fossil fuel combustion technologies, including better overall efficiency, high energy density, and the reduction of CO2 and other emissions. In particular, fuel cells are high-efficiency chemical-to-electrical energy conversion devices that can be used as power sources in electric vehicles, portable and stationary applications. Metal-air batteries can provide significantly enhanced energy densities when compared to traditional lithium ion batteries. They can be used to store clean energy obtained from renewable wind and solar sources, and also can be used for grid-scale energy storage in power plants. Additionally, water electrolysis can be used to generate H2 from renewable energy such as solar, wind and hydraulic power. However, these sustainable electrochemical energy technologies greatly rely on the oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER), which are two of the most important and technologically pertinent electrochemical reactions. Due to high ORR and OER overpotentials and inherently slow reaction kinetics, these reactions require on highly active and durable catalysts that traditionally contain large precious metal contents such as Pt and Ir. Unfortunately, the high cost and limited supply of these precious metals has become a grand challenge for the widespread commercial success and implementation of these clean energy technologies. Development of non-precious metal catalysts for these oxygen-based reactions has become a hot topic in the field of electrochemical energy storage and conversion. Importantly, exploring advanced catalyst designs and synthesis strategies using earth-abundant elements will be scientifically important with the potential to provide fundamental knowledge and understanding in the field of materials electrochemistry, along with technological breakthroughs.