Two-dimensional nanomaterials for the development of flexible batteries

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Engineering

Abstract

In the 21st century, as wireless technology has become ubiquitous and the desire to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels has grown, the need for building better batteries is also increasing. As electronics becomes pervasive, portability and wearability have become a prime concern for consumers. Consequently, light, efficient, high density, and mechanically versatile energy storage devices have become the need of the hour. The consumer electronics market is dominated by portable devices; be it smartphones, laptops, or wearables (smart watches, headphones, VR headsets, fitness monitors etc.): each device depends on Li-ion batteries. Furthermore, flexible batteries are increasingly desired for novel technologies such as roll-up displays or transdermal drug delivery systems.

Unfortunately, as things stand today, despite being the simplest of components, batteries are often seen as a bottleneck in any electronic system; wireless communications and electric vehicles were held back decades due to the insufficient advancement of battery technology, and the latter continues to struggle against its petrol-powered brethren due to the low cost-efficiency, high kerb-weight, and relatively low range (i.e. kilometres per recharge) of current electric vehicles. The use of novel two-dimensional nanomaterials is crucial to overcoming the challenges of fabricating highly stable, efficient, compact and mechanically flexible Li-ion batteries. The same concerns are applicable for alternative chemistries such as NiMH, Na-ion, Li-air, and Li-polymer batteries.
2D materials exhibit many unique features that are desirable for the composition of flexible electrodes in next-generation battery chemistries; these include a very large surface area to volume ratio, low weight, and more intercalation sites for fast lithium-ion diffusion. While individual nanomaterials are useful on their own, stacking different nanomaterials to create stable heterostructures would enable us to overcome the shortcomings of each individual material. In previous studies, flexible graphene-composite nanosheet electrodes have shown excellent cycling stability, and high rate capabilities making them promising candidates for next-generation electrodes . Furthermore, the inherently extraordinary charge-carrier mobility and tensile strength of graphene make it particularly suited for this application, both electronically and mechanically.
While previous studies have been conducted and shown the idea to be promising, most of the prior
research has focused on the preparation and characterization of a single flexible electrode. It will be my endeavour to prepare a complete flexible battery, and provide a coherent approach for the next generation of battery physics. Furthermore, so far most studies have focused on battery level performance, however it shall be my attempt to provide an accurate characterization of the charge/discharge processes in 2D-nanomaterial based batteries and reveal their intrinsic strengths and limitations.
During my PhD, I intend to create a computational framework for modelling, and subsequently experimentally advancing battery technology, to become lighter, faster, more stable, and mechanically versatile by creatively using 2D nanomaterials. I would be grateful if the University of Glasgow and the James Watt Nanofabrication centre provide me the opportunity to do so. I am also immensely grateful to my supervisor, Dr Vihar Georgiev, who has supported my application to pursue this doctoral research, and guided me throughout my final year project.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/N509668/1 01/10/2016 30/09/2021
2126412 Studentship EP/N509668/1 01/10/2018 31/03/2022 Isha Maini