Energy Conversion and Storage

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The Interface and Catalysts Program at SIMES

Nearly all chemical transformations related to energy conversion and storage take place at the surfaces and interfaces between solids and gases or liquids. For instance, catalysts are in the center of fuel cell technology where the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen on a platinum surface produces electricity.

The Interface and Catalysts Program at SIMES investigates the mechanism and dynamics of catalytic reactions, in order to boost reactivity and synthesize cheaper and smarter catalytic materials. Our goal is to create new, economically viable catalysts that provide maximum selectivity and efficiency for improved energy conversion.

Inventing New Batteries

Once electricity has been generated, it needs to be stored. Batteries have always relied on the physical separation of electrodes as their foundational structure. Higher density of energy storage might be available when we modify the internal materials and architecture of batteries. We are experimenting with battery designs that utilize cheap, flexible nanowires instead of conventional bulk size particles as cathodes and anodes.

Harnessing Light Itself

Solar cells work by converting the energy of light hitting their surface to electrical pulses in their interior. By modifying the surfaces of these cells, such as by using advanced energy converting dyes and nanoscale texturing, more light can be captured and converted to electricity. SIMES is at the forefront of research in thin films and fuel cell development.