Versatile quinones for long cycle life aqueous metal ion batteries 

Yan Yao

Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Houston 

Abstract: Aqueous rechargeable batteries use water-based electrolytes and offer safety, robustness, and environmental friendliness over lithium-ion batteries that feature flammable organic electrolytes. However their adoption is plagued by the poor cycle life due to the structural and chemical instability of the anode materials. We recently reported several quinones (oxidized derivatives of aromatic compounds) as anodes for high-performance aqueous batteries. These quinones are shown to operate with long cycle life under various chemical and thermal environments.

Fig. 1 (a) Correlation between the reduction potentials of quinone electrodes measured with cyclic voltammetry and the pH value of aqueous electrolytes. The battery drawings depict plausible battery configurations based on quinone anodes and suitable cathodes. (b-d) Chemical structure of PTO, PPTO, and PAQS, and galvanostatic charge–discharge profiles for the related materials in the corresponding electrolytes. (e-g) Itemized comparison of quinones with existing anode materials for acidic batteries (AC and Pb), ALIBs (LiTi2(PO4)3 and imide), and alkaline batteries (MmH and Zn). 

Biography: Dr. Yan Yao is an associate professor of Electrical Engineering and Materials Science at the University of Houston. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from UCLA in 2008 (with Prof. Yang Yang). Prior to joining the University of Houston, he served as a senior scientist at Polyera Corporation from 2008 to 2010 and a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University (with Prof. Yi Cui) from 2010 to 2012. Dr. Yao’s research focuses on fundamental understanding and materials design in energy storage devices for safe, cost-effective, and long cycle-life battery technologies. His current research interests include magnesium battery electrodes and electrolytes, aqueous batteries, solid-state-electrolyte and all-solid-state batteries, and organic based redox electrode materials. He has authored 70 publications with papers in Nature Materials, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Comm., JACS, and citations over 17,000. He also has 13 granted patents and 9 pending applications. Dr. Yao’s honors include Robert A. Welch Professorship (2012-2015), Office of Naval Research (ONR) Young Investigator Award (2013), Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2014), Teaching Excellence Award (2016), and Scialog Fellow from the Research Corporation (2017). Dr. Yao’s research is currently funded by the US Department of Energy Vehicle Technology Office, Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation.