Nanostructured Cathode, Understanding of New Electrolyte Lead to Greater Efficiency
Magnesium batteries offer promise for safely powering modern life – unlike traditional lithium ion batteries, they are not flammable or subject to exploding – but their ability to store energy has been limited.
Modern batteries power everything from cars to cell phones, but they are far from perfect – they catch fire, they perform poorly in cold weather and they have relatively short lifecycles, among other issues. Now researchers from the University of Houston have described a new class of material that addresses many of those concerns in Nature Materials.
If there’s one thing Yan Yao gets a charge out of, it’s the idea of creating a better battery. The Cullen College assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering is known for being the most current in the battery industry. A Google search yields more than 16,000 citations of papers by Yao.
Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell dean of the Cullen College, recognized faculty, staff and students for their outstanding performance in teaching, research and service at the spring faculty and staff meeting held on May 3.
A grant from the Office of Naval Research will help researchers from across the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering more efficiently test advanced materials being developed with funding from the Department of Defense.
Yan Yao, assistant professor in the Cullen College’s electrical and computer engineering department, is developing alternatives to popular lithium-ion batteries, which are used to power much of the modern world.
As a Tier One research university, the University of Houston places a strong emphasis on research in and out of the classroom. But for undergraduate students, hands-on laboratory opportunities can be scarce, as researcher spots are usually filled with graduate students and post-doctoral associates.
Last June, Texas Gov. Rick Perry drove an electric car made by Tesla Motors in front of the Texas State Capitol Building in Austin – a symbolic gesture meant to signify his intention of convincing Tesla executives to build their more than $4 billion battery factory right here in the Lone Star State.
For all their virtues, electric vehicles have two major drawbacks: their cost – usually tens of thousands of dollars more than comparable gasoline-powered cars – and how far they can travel on a single charge.
The summer semester offers a perfect opportunity for undergraduates to conduct engineering research under the mentorship of a faculty member. Cullen College of Engineering undergraduates selected for the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) gained practical experience in research methods and a newfound interest in the science of innovation.