Our research projects are directed at the rational design of novel energy related materials, such as new battery, thermoelectric and strongly correlated electron materials.
The area of potentially greatest improvement of the battery materials is the cathode. Materials with layered structures suffer from thermal instability on delithiation, which compromises the safety of Li-ion cells. In our lab we synthesize new transitional metal compounds with framework or layered structures and establish their crystal structures and electrochemical performance.
A new physical mechanism, spin-entropy transport, has been recently identified as a source of enhanced thermopower in layered cobaltates. The spin-entropy thermopower enhancement may be widespread in transition-metal oxides. Design of new transition-metal (Fe, Ti, V, Cr, Mn, Rh) oxide thermoelectric materials with the spin-entropy transport mechanism is the objective of the second research area.
An important class of solid state energy materials is that with so called strong electron correlations. In lower dimensions, the electrons are forced into much stronger interactions with each other. Such strong correlations between electrons are related to many unique properties, such as: high temperature superconductivity, multiferroic, thermoelectric, heavy fermion metallic behavior, and colossal magnetoresistance.
Density functional theory is commonly used to calculate the electronic structure of complex systems. In our group theoretical calculations are used to calculate electronic band structures, Fermi surfaces and total energies of magnetically ordered states. This allows deeper understanding of measured properties. Theoretical properties predictions are also used to identify phases of interest for further synthesis.
While doing this research in our group, students are trained in the areas of inorganic synthesis, electrochemistry, crystallography, magnetism, and various characterization techniques. Expertise in synthetic methods and characterization techniques will allow the students to become versatile scientists, well equipped with the technical prerequisites necessary for future independent creative research.