- Mechanistic understanding of a model solid electrolyte/electrode interface for advancing electrochemical energy storage applications (R. Weeks)
To mitigate the impacts of anthropogenic climate change as we transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, advanced storage systems are necessary to make intermittent renewable energy sources a viable option. One solution for meeting these energy storage needs involves the use of batteries. However, the lithium-ion battery technology ubiquitous in electronic devices and electric vehicles may be unsuitable for advanced grid storage systems due to concerns about lithium sourcing and safety. In particular, safety issues stem from the use of flammable liquid organic electrolytes and the formation of a poorly defined solid electrolyte interphase which can deleteriously affect battery performance. My research will investigate beyond lithium-ion battery and liquid organic electrolyte technologies in favor of all solid-state sodium batteries. My objective is to develop a multimodal approach to determine the key characteristics of solid/solid interfaces, tailored with controllable interlayers chosen to mediate ion/charge transfer between a nanowire cathode and ionically conducting polymer electrolyte. Such understanding will enable the fabrication of highly efficient and environmentally safe beyond lithium-ion energy storage technologies with tunable interfaces.