Dissertation research for Nanotechnology for Clean Energy IGERT trainees fall into three categories, or integrative reserach thrusts (IRTs):

IRT 1: Nanomaterials Synthesis and Characterization:

Energy research at Rutgers and Princeton includes high surface area electrodes in super capacitors, fuel cells, charge generation, and transport media in next-generation, affordable photovoltaics, and lithium intercalation and electrochemical conversion compounds in high-power batteries. Understanding the formation of nanomaterials (through in-situ diagnostics) in various synthesis methods is a starting point for optimization of large-scale production required for clean energy solutions. Parallel computational studies usingin ab-initio and molecular dynamics will help develop a fundamental understanding of growth.

  • Low temperature, large-scale synthesis and processing of nanomaterials for energy applications
  • Electrochemically induced formation of heterogeneous nanocomposites for energy storage
  • Nanoscale characterization and simulation of materials properties

IRT 2: Discrete Device Design and Performance Optimization

Novel device configurations such as those based on organic platforms that facilitate flexible and inexpensive devices are being investigated including self-assembly methods. Consider for example, a method for fabricating batteries in which the cathode, electrolyte and anode are co-deposited onto a substrate and, upon application of voltage, assembled into a working device capable of storing and supplying power. Using nanomaterials creatively, and solution processing for energy applications, allows for fabrication of novel devices without costly lithographic methods.

  • Photovoltaic devices based on highly ordered organic crystals
  • Photovoltaic devices from inorganic/organic hybrids
  • Low-cost, solution-processed graphene-based transparent conducting electrodes for solar cells
  • Higher energy-density energy storage devices via oxyfluoride nanocomposites
  • Electrochemically self-assembled micro batteries (ESAMS)
  • High surface area electrode for supercapacitors and fuel cells

IRT 3: Integration of Energy Generation and Storage Devices

To achieve true energy independence, energy generation and storage devices so that power can be supplied on an as-needed basis. The challenges of integration are considerable where uncertainties in individual device performance and couplling losses make optimal operation of the final system a major challenge. Each discrete device must be suitably optimized; process incompatibilites of the various technologies must be overcome; efficient integrated systems must be designed. A crucial advantage of the integration is that very high efficiencies in generation devices may not be necessary because energy is continuously being stored as it is generated. Energy not being used is not wasted. As a result, energy security to individuals and local communities is achieved through elimination of reliance on the power grid. Therefore, a significant portion of our efforts are on developing effective designs for device integration.

  • Integrated power devices as inverters for solar cells
  • Integration of energy generation, conversion and storage devices
  • Power management in energy systems

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Latest News

Latest travels for the IGERT trainees: attending a Gordon Research Conference on Nanotechnology for Energy Applications
Trainee Eric Gauthier Interns at CSIR - Pretoria, South Africa
Eric Gauthier, a PhD student in Chemical and Biological Engineering at Princeton spent two months working at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research in Pretoria, South Africa from May 28 to July 21, 2012.
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Ryan Thorpe, Alexandra Biedron and Shoham Bhadra were selected to participate in the First Materials Research School held at Addis Ababa University, December 9-21, 2012.
Jing Li - IGERT Faculty Wins Prestigious C3E Award
Professor Jing Li (CCB, Rutgers) has been awarded a C3E award recognizing mid-career women with outstanding accomplishments in clean energy research.