Nanostructured electrodes are among the most important candidates for high-capacity battery chemistry. However, the high surface area they possess causes serious stability, cycling and safety issues associated with the solid-electrolyte interface. In this work, Qian et al. present a completely new strategy of limiting the effective surface area by introducing an “electrolyte-phobic surface”. In this approach, the surface of the active material is coated with a chemically tethered perfluorocarbon that provides it with a unique nonwetting behavior making it impervious to the electrolyte. The concept could prove to be a general strategy for minimizing the accessible surface area of high-surface-area materials in future applications in advanced batteries.
See full article at Nano Letters.
Optimizing the kinetic barriers of ammonia synthesis to reduce the energy intensity has attracted significant research interest; however, discovering a means by which the activation barriers of N2 dissociation and NHz destabilization can be reduced simultaneously has proven challenging. In this work, Mao and co-authors demonstrate a hybrid catalyst, featuring a Fe nanocrystal necklace integrated with hydrogen-laden titanium oxide nanoparticles with cascade oxygen vacancies, that enables facile activation of N2 and hydrogenation of the N or NHz to NH3.
See full article at Journal of the American Chemical Society.
While superconductors are not considered an energy material, the energy savings arising from resistance-free transmission and distribution of electricity are potentially massive when considered on a global scale. Energy could also be saved by incorporating room temperature superconductors into electricity generating power plants, storing electrical energy as persistent currents in superconducting magnetic loops, employing magnetically levitated railways, using superconductor propulsion motors for maritime transport, and improving the energy efficiency of quantum computers with superconducting digital logic circuitry. See full article at Advanced Science News.
Solid-state physicists and materials chemists are in excellent “shape” to expand and accelerate their explorations of the science of topological materials for a wide range of possible applications. In particular, exploiting the reactivity of electrons at the surface of topological solids will prove to be of considerable interest in catalysis, whether a heterogeneous reaction is driven by heat, electricity, light or a combination thereof. See full article at Advanced Science News.
A recent report described an innovative rechargeable metal-nitrogen battery based on a graphene-supported palladium cathode and a polished aluminum anode interfaced with an ionic liquid electrolyte comprised of aluminum chloride/1-butyl-3-methylimidazolium chloride. Remarkably, the aluminum-nitrogen battery was demonstrated to serve the dual purpose of both storing and retrieving energy and having the ability to fix the nitrogen stream as ammonia. See full article at Advanced Science News.
Capturing carbon dioxide and sequestering or converting it into sustainable chemicals and fuels can significantly help in mitigating emissions as we transition away from fossil fuels. But what exactly is the carbon footprint of such a process from cradle-to-grave? How much carbon dioxide feedstock needs to be captured to satisfy the demand for chemicals and fuels? And what is the energy demand of the CO2 capture and utilization processes? Geoff explores these pressing questions in his latest for Advanced Science News.
To celebrate his 77th birthday, ASN reached out to the extraordinary Nanochemist at the University of Toronto, “the father of Nanochemistry”, Geoffery Ozin, to discuss his colorful career, current projects, and plans for the future. The interview is summarized with the title “small materials with a big impact”.
See full article at Advanced Science News.
Tailoring the performance of a photocatalyst by design is challenge in the field of renewable synthetic fuels. In this work, the authors demonstrate how polymorphic heterostructures comprised of two indium oxide based photocatalysts, with distinct structures yet continuously adjustable fractions of the same composition, enable optimization of the activity and selectivity of CO2 hydrogenation to CO and CH3OH. Interfaces formed between cubic and rhombohedral polymorphs with distinct electronic band structures, vacancies, and defects enable the charge generation, separation, and lifetimes of photogenerated electron-hole pairs to be finely tuned.
See full article at Energy and Environmental Science.
1D silicon‐based nanomaterials, renowned for their unique chemical and physical properties, have enabled the development of numerous advanced materials and biomedical technologies. In this work, the authors demonstrate a flash solid–solid (FSS) process for the synthesis of silicon oxide nanorods that can be completed within seconds. The innovative features of this FSS process include its simplicity, speed, and exclusive use of solid precursors, comprising hydrogen‐terminated silicon nanosheets and a metal nitrate catalyst.
See full article at Small.
Powering the planet with sunlight-driven CO2 chemistry is an especially attractive approach for sustainable development. In this Tutorial Review, Yuchan Dong and co-authors highlight the multidisciplinary character of photocatalytic CO2 reduction studies from the perspective of materials chemistry, science and engineering, computational modelling, reactor engineering to process development. It provides a full picture of all the essential components for scaling laboratory research to pilot demonstration to implementation in industry, one-step closer to the vision of the solar CO2 refinery.
See full article at Chemical Society Review.