If you want to build a cell-phone battery as thin as paper that powers your phone for a week, or have an electric vehicle like the Tesla go 500 miles on a single charge and recharge in just 10 minutes, you will have to start thinking small – small as the atoms that determine the energy storage mechanisms and lifetimes in batteries.
In the field of materials science and engineering, we have been thinking at this scale for some time – understanding and then engineering the atoms that make up the tangible world around us.
In my group, we work with materials that function in energy storage and conversion devices that include batteries and fuel cells. In these devices, materials can face a host of challenges, such as highly corrosive environments and large mechanical deformation.
Note: This is a guest post by Veronica Augustyn, an assistant professor in NC State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. In the ongoing Research Matters series, NC State researchers address the value of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.