Using AAO in Energy Storage Applications
Nanoporous membranes have attracted much attention in areas such as templated nanomaterial synthesis and small molecule filtration. Anodic aluminum oxide (AAO) is among the most common. Anodization of aluminum forms a high density array of self-organizing hexanal nanopores. This well-established electrochemical technique provides facile control of the pore dimensions. AAO acts as a template for the synthesis of various nanostructures, including nanotubes, nanorods, and core-shell structures.
In our group, we currently utilize AAO as a hard template to synthsize and investigate new cathode materials for rechargeable magnesium battery systems, specifically conductive polymer composites. We can also synthesize these AAO templates in a variety of confirgurations in our lab, with different pore sizes and thicknesses. Interconnections can be formed to create a 3D structured AAO - this interconnected AAO is an excellent test bed for the effects of structure on battery electrode performance.
Beyond Li-ion Battery technology
Our group is currently investigating new battery chemistries beyond current Li-ion technology. Specifically, we are interested in both Lithium-sulfur and Magensium-sulfur batteries in addition to rechargeable magnesium battery systems. Much of our research focuses on gaining fundamental understanding of different issues facing this technology.
We have previously studied the effects of water on magnesium ion insertion into MnO2 cathode materials and the mechanism for this process. Currently we are investigating how interphase/SEI layers affect Mg anode electrochemistry and the potential to form protective layers on magnesium anodes. Similarly, we have developed novel protocols for protecting Li metal anodes to improve Li-S battery performance. We are working to expand our understanding of metal anode interfaces and how to improve their compatibility in various electrolyte systems, especially for rechargeable magnesium batteries.