Yanliang (Leonard) Liang, electrical and computer engineering research associate at UH Cullen College, won the Silver Nano Research Poster Award at the 10th Sino-U.S. Symposium on Nanoscale Science and Technology in June.
Liang’s poster titled, “Rational Nanostructure Design for Efficient Mg Rechargeable Batteries,” was among more than 200 posters submitted and was one of only eight that earned awards. The symposium, sponsored by Tsinghua University Press, attracted more than 1,000 attendees.
“No one expects to win anything because the environment is pretty competitive with scientists from all over China and the United States,” Liang said. “The work started long before this forum, so it’s good to be recognized for our contribution to the field and to know that people are interested in our work.”
Under the supervision of Yan Yao, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at UH Cullen College, Liang helped to develop an alternative to traditional lithium-ion batteries, and papers about their breakthrough published in the journals Nano Letters and ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Instead of lithium ions, Liang and Yao opted for safer and more economical magnesium ions to produce their battery. Magnesium is an abundant material and discharges twice as much energy as its lithium counterpart. However, magnesium ions move slowly in host materials because of their interaction with the batteries’ negatively charged lattices.
Liang and Yao created an interlayer expansion method to boost magnesium’s diffusivity by two orders of magnitude, and researchers could potentially leverage this approach across a range of host materials that store various ions. Their discovery provides opportunities for the development of advanced materials for next-generation electric vehicles, among other sustainable development innovations.
The symposium provides a forum for researchers to share their work in the field of nanotechnology to optimize solutions for energy shortages, environmental contamination and life science challenges, according to the event’s website.
“Yanliang joined my research group in Fall 2012 as a postdoc researcher, and he has undoubtedly shown a high level of excellence and distinction in materials and battery research,” Yao said. “I am confident that he has great potential in making more significant achievements and becoming a young leader in the future. This award recognizes his past achievements and motivates him to achieve a higher level of success in his career.”