Professor: Richard Robinson
Supercapacitors have become the hottest topic in electrochemical energy storage because they promise to fill in the gaps between long term storage and short term power needs. One of the intriguing discoveries of late, is that the particles that make up the electrode can switch from battery behavior (with stable redox plateaus and slow charge extraction) to supercapacitor behavior based solely on the size of the particles. Smaller nanoparticle function as supercapacitors while larger nanoparticles act with the expected battery characteristics. In this project, you will investigate the electrochemical and structural nature of this transition using metal oxide nanoparticles. You will synthesize varying sizes of nanoparticles, characterize them using XRD and UV-vis, build batteries and supercap cells (electrochemical half-cells), and test their behavior using battery and supercap testing procedures and EIS. If successful, you will measure these materials in in-situ cells at a synchrotron (e.g., CHESS) and/or a neutron source for neutron depth profiling of the Lithium.
In this REU project, students will participate in our efforts to synthesize different compositions of nanoparticle metal oxides, characterize them, and produce battery/supercapacitor devices. The student will learn about colloidal nanoparticle synthesis, nanoparticle assembly, and making and testing lithium-ion batteries. Our techniques are based on colloidal chemistry and solid state processing.