Architectural Design, 1D Walls, 3D Plumbing, and Painting Blind en Route to Scalable Multifunctional Nanoarchitectures for Energy Storage

Colloquium | August 29 | 4-6 p.m. | 180 Tan Hall

 Debra R. Rolison, US Naval Research Laboratory

 Department of Chemical Engineering

Our team at the Naval Research Laboratory looks at rate-critical chemical processes where events per second are required for high performance in such technologies as energy storage, energy conversion, (electro)catalysis, and sensing. We then design next-generation systems built around pore–solid nanoarchitectures that seamlessly embody all of the requisite rate functions for high-performance electrochemistry: molecular mass transport, ionic/electronic/thermal conductivity, and electron-transfer kinetics. We have taken the lessons from 20 years of probing the operational and design characteristics of catalytic and energy-relevant nanoarchitectures to create a zinc sponge—a stand-alone, 3D-wired anode that improves current distribution within the electrode structure during charge–discharge cycling, thwarts dendrite-formation, and can challenge the energy density of Li-ion battery packs, all while using safer aqueous-based chemistry. With this breakthrough, we are now addressing the family of zinc-based rechargeable alkaline batteries: nickel–3D zinc, silver–3D zinc, MnO2–3D zinc, and even rechargeable 3D zinc–air. The route we have taken to move from a creative concept to a fabricated reality to the necessary fundamental characterization to prototype development (and ultimately commercialization by outside companies) will be described.