The Future of Energy Storage: Bringing Batteries to the Molecular Scale

John Anderson, assistant professor, University of Chicago Department of Chemistry

The increasing use of renewable energy and the adoption of electric vehicles among other advances are creating a significant need for inexpensive and long-lived energy storage devices.

While lithium-ion batteries are currently the status quo, researchers argue a new class of materials could enable store density and lifetimes “far beyond” today’s technology.

An assistant professor in the department of chemistry at the University of Chicago, John Anderson is focused on developing fundamentally new and disruptive materials to realize dramatic improvements in battery performance and cost. His research focuses on developing inorganic synthetic chemistries to solve problems relevant in nature, energy, and new materials.

“The future of energy storage is going to rely on new battery technologies. Despite this, the materials we are using for batteries are decades old,” Anderson explained. “While these materials have been highly optimized for excellent performance at this point, there is still a fundamental limit to battery performance that is imposed by their composition.”

A major goal of his research is to discover fundamentally new materials with what he described as “exciting and potentially paradigm-shifting properties for applications including energy storage.”

To accomplish this goal, Anderson hopes to test the properties and use of new lamellar iron sulfide materials as battery or energy storage components. The layered structure of these materials gives them excellent performance and charge density as cathode materials.

Recently, Anderson said his team has discovered synthetic techniques to generate “unusual layered or lamellar structures of iron sulfide.” The features of these structures, including redox (reduction-oxidation) characteristics, makes them an ideal candidate for batteries, he said. Additionally, the material components are abundant and cost-effective.

Anderson is among several University of Chicago researchers showcasing their work at Illinois Ignite 2020 later this month. Pre-recorded presentations will be posted on September 24, 2020, and will remain live until October 9, 2020.

 >> Register for the virtual event, here.

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