High energy and safe electrochemical storage are critical components in multiple emerging fields of technology where portability is a requirement for performance and large-scale deployment. From advanced robotics, autonomous aircraft, to hybrid electric vehicles, the number of technologies demanding advanced electrochemical storage solutions is rising. The rechargeable lithium ion battery (LIB) has received considerable attention because of its high operating voltages, low internal resistance and minimal memory effects. Unfortunately LIBs are currently operating close to their theoretical performance limits due to the relatively low capacity of the anode LiC6 and the lithiated cathode materials (LiCoO2 and LiFePO4) in widespread commercial use. It has long been understood that a rechargeable lithium metal battery (LMB), which eschewed the use of a carbon host at the anode can lead to as much as a ten-fold improvement in anode storage capacity (from 360 mAh g-1 to 3860 mAh g-1) and would open up opportunities for high energy un-lithiated cathode materials such as sulfur and oxygen, among others. Together, these advances would lead to rechargeable batteries with step-change improvements in storage capacity relative to today’s state of the art LIBs.
A grand challenge in the field concerns the development of electrolytes, electrode, and battery system configurations that prevent uneven electrodeposition of lithium and other metal anodes, and thereby eliminate dendrites at the nucleation step. Lithium-ion batteries (LiB) are designed to remove these risks by hosting the lithium in a conductive carbon host at the anode. However, the small potential difference that separates lithium insertion into versus plating onto carbon can potentially lead to similar failure modes in an overcharged or too quickly charged LiB. Thus, the need for materials that prevent non-uniform electrodeposition of metals such as Li is also implicit in new fast charging LIB technology targeted for electric-drive vehicles.
Yingying Lu received her Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University (2014). From Oct 2014 to Oct 2015, she worked as a postdoctoral scholar in the department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University. In Oct 2015, she joined Zhejiang University as a tenure-track professor via Thousand Youth Talents Program in China. She was nominated to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2016, Forbes 30 Under 30 China list in 2017 and received the Qiu Shi Outstanding Young Scholar Award at the Qiu Shi Foundation, Hong Kong in 2018. Her research interests include electrolyte design in secondary batteries and materials design for solving safety problems in lithium-based batteries.