Broadly, this project examines how function follows form in the context of batteries. The form under investigation is similar to a kitchen sponge. The function of a sponge is as much defined by its positive space, its material, as it is defined by its negative space, the voids. Similarly to how a sponge soaks up spills, battery materials soak up ions when charging or discharging. In a battery, the speed with which it can charge is similarly determined by how these components are organized in space. \r\n\r\nSpecifically, this project examines how function follows form in a class of ultrafast battery materials called pseudocapacitors. My group’s PMT process allows independent variation of the material and void dimensions which uniquely informs design improvements by separating the effects of each space. Translating these lab scale methods to industrial manufacturing remains a challenge, in part due to the 1000x gap in length scale between the micrometer sized particles used in modern battery manufacturing and the nanometer sized features needed for pseudocapacitance. This project will first extend our PMT approach to nanoporous microparticles that are compatible with industrial manufacturing and then study their performance. Advancing the capabilities of energy storage devices will support broader use of sustainable energy resources.
Dr. Julian Schwenzel, Fraunhofer-Institut, Oldenburg