University of Minnesota
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DOE grant focuses on new materials for batteries, supercapacitors

Recent research from the research group of Professor

Chemistry Professor Andreas Stein is principal investigator on a new $850,000 grant from the Department of Energy Materials Chemistry Program on computation-guided synthetic strategies for nanocomposite electrode structures designed to probe critical size effects on charge storage and transport.

In this collaborative project with Regents Professor Donald Truhlar from the Department of Chemistry and Professor William Smyrl from the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, methods will be developed for synthesizing novel nanostructured composite materials that enable higher energy and power densities in charge storage devices. The experiments will be designed to precisely and systematically control relative dimensions of the components in the electrode structure at nanometer length scales, and to understand the influence of these dimensions on the ability of the materials to store charge. To guide the experimental work, materials properties such as redox potentials and charge transport will be studied theoretically by Truhlar's research group.

The fundamental information on the influence of size effects of the electroactive materials may lead to the design of new electrode materials for rechargeable batteries and supercapacitors. In practice, this may result in longer usage times for electronic devices and greater driving ranges for electric vehicles. As an added benefit, electrode materials will be chosen from inexpensive and abundant elements with a goal to reduce the cost of future battery materials.