Carbon nanostructured materials such as carbon nanotubes, carbon nanofibers, and graphene are prime candidates of new battery and supercapacitor elements that can massively improve battery efficiency for energy conversion and storage. Such devices have the potential to provide extremely high surface per unit volume of catalytically active sites, making a three to fivefold improvement in energy density possible.
Despite attempts to combine carbon nanostructures with active electrode materials, the mechanisms of carbon nanostructure growth are still not fully explained, and critical issues remain:
1) energy density is far below the theoretical level,
2) cyclability is limited, and
3) most synthesis techniques work in the lab but are impractical for industrial production.
The goal of the Nessim lab is to study the scientific mechanisms of the synthesis of nanostructures and to develop relevant industrial applications, with a prime emphasis on energy devices (batteries and supercapacitors). The group currently comprises two postdocs, two PhD candidates, a Masters student, and two visiting summer students. Additionally, the group collaborates with researchers in BIU (e.g., Aurbach and Lellouche groups) and with researchers in the USA (MIT, U.Michigan, Vanderbilt) and Europe (ETH).
We plan to study in-situ, simultaneous synthesis and functionalization of carbon nanostructures primarily by chemical vapor deposition. Because this way the growth of the carbon nanostructures and their functionalization with active electrode material will happen at the same time, the method has the potential to synthesise ultra-dense composite structures, maximizing energy density while maintaining structural integrity and high cyclability.
These studies will uncover many scientific aspects of carbon nanostructure nucleation, growth, and functionalization. Multiple material combinations corresponding to selected battery and supercapacitor chemistries will be synthesized and electrochemically tested.
Customized, industrially-scalable plasma-enhanced CVD synthesis equipment will be used to synthesize the electrodes. The learning of mechanisms and factors affecting simultaneous carbon nanostructure growth and functionalization is critical for nanotechnology. Success in this research will allow the development of ultra-high energy density batteries and supercapacitors that will make the electric car a manufacturing reality with great consequences to the environment and society.
Job Description of Trainee:
Depends on the background of the relevant person. The lab works with nanomaterials, using high-powered furnaces to synthesize materials. The intern will learn how to operate these furnaces, eventually being able to do so independently, and will then be able to join more advanced researchers in examining the product of the synthesis through high-powered microscopes.
Training required: Must feel comfortable around lab equipment and be a quick learner. They will train in how to use the machinery, but the intern should have the right head for it.
Experience Required: Some experience in material science/nanotech/chemistry appreciated.