Nanomaterials for Energy Conversion and Storage

Our research is focused on the study of novel nanostructured thin films with special structural and advanced functional properties at the incorporated interfaces. The aim is to develop new materials towards improved energy applications, such as solid-state batteries and thermoelectric energy generators. This research is part of the “Storage and Conversion of Renewable Energy” application area of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, which goal it is to exploit and expand the present expertise in the field of nano-related energy research through multidisciplinary collaboration between various research groups.

Solid-state microbatteries can facilitate miniaturization, create more flexibility for the design of stand-alone microelectronic devices and enhance their applicability, for example in medical im-plants, due to the avoided leakage risks. However, the successful application of all-solid-state microbatteries depends strongly on the enhancement of energy density and lifetime. The cycle-life and lifetime are dependent on the nature of the interfaces between the electrodes and electrolyte, whereas safety is a function of the stability of the electrode materials and interfaces. Therefore, perfect control on the interfacial properties between the electrodes and electrolyte is needed, but remains a great challenge.

In view of global energy and environmental issues, the necessity to utilize our global energy sources more efficiently becomes relevant. Since most energy is still being discharged into the environment as waste heat, significant amount of renewable energy remains unused. Thermoelectric power generation systems offer a feasible method to convert available heat energy directly into electrical energy, irrespective of source size. They are lightweight, small, inexpensive and minimal susceptible to failure, due to the absence of moving parts or liquids/gases.