Sustainable Materials Innovation For Energy Storage and Conversion

Global solutions for electrical energy storage and energy conversion issues rely on materials designed to be durable electrodes and active catalysts. Issues of electrode stability, chemical reversibility, and catalyst poisoning will remain a challenge. Design solutions stem from studying dynamic surface and interfacial chemistry and structure in these materials using operando local structural probes.

The Doan-Nguyen Group’s research combines smart design, solution-phase and solid-state synthesis, and novel local structure probes of materials to understand how structural changes at the atomic scale propagate to functional performance. Functional properties of these materials are often not well understood from a structural perspective. Structure-property relations of materials span multiple length scales, requiring a repertoire of emerging techniques to probe the local and long-range chemical and structural environments.

Synthesis Science

This project investigates the phase space of functional materials at the nanometer length scale. We establish structure-property relations of materials activated at the nanoscale.  The outcomes will contribute to the advancement of rational materials design and synthesis science. This opens up possibilities for a wide variety of applications in energy storage, electric switching, gas sensing, and energy conversion.

Local Structure Characterization

In order to capture the chemical changes and phase transformations that occur in an electrochemical process, we investigate the materials’ local structures (e.g. nearest neighbor interactions, next nearest neighbor) en operando. These capabilities allow us to capture non-equilibrium states that provide powerful insight into reaction pathways and electrochemical mechanisms in real time. We carry out these experiments both in the lab at OSU and at synchrotron light sources at national labs. Suite of characterization techniques include transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, X-ray μCT, Raman spectroscopy, total scattering, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy.

Solid Electrolytes for Li-ion and Na-ion Batteries

To make batteries safer, we aim to supplant conventional liquid electrolytes with inorganic solid electrolytes. The road map for this work includes investigating fundamental structure-property relations and chemical interactions with both the cathode and anode. Work in this area will provide foundational knowledge in designing and synthesis new solid electrolytes with high ionic conductivity capable of competing with liquid electrolytes.

Electrode-Electrolyte Interfaces

Novel active electrode materials are investigated to elucidate fundamental mechanisms of charge storage. This project involves synthesis and advanced characterization of electrode materials for Li-ion and beyond Li-ion batteries. In particular, we investigate how morphology of electrode materials interact with electrolytes to enhance chemical stability and cyclability.