Mechanisms of Electrochemical Energy Storage

Danzen Zhang, PhD looks at electrochemical mechanisms within batteries and supercapacitors
Danzhen Zhang, PhD

A new technique to identify the exact electrochemical mechanisms within batteries and supercapacitors could make it possible to develop high-performing batteries faster than ever. The method, reported in Nature Energy, combines optical spectroscopy and voltammetry to precisely track ion movement and oxidation state changes during charging and discharging. This gives greater insight into the complex reactions governing energy storage performance.

The team behind the method, led by Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Charles T. Bach Professor, tested different electrode-electrolyte systems. They generated plots matching optical data showing material changes with current flow during charging and discharging. This let them identify key mechanisms like redox reactions, where ions trade electrons, and double-layer charging, which stores energy on material surfaces.

Gogotsi says the method, using widely available equipment, can rapidly evaluate material interactions and avoid missteps in designing better batteries and supercapacitors.

“Our method uses optical signals to directly monitor changes in electrode materials,” said Danzhen Zhang, a doctoral student on the team. “It helps eliminate inaccuracies encountered with traditional electrochemical testing.”