Horizons Community Board Collection – Progress and Development in Advanced Energy Storage Technologies

Vipin Kumar *a and Kai Zhu *b
aSchool of Basic Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India - 752050. E-mail: vipinkumar@iitbbs.ac.in
bCollege of Material Science and Chemical Engineering, Harbin Engineering University, China. E-mail: kzhu@hrbeu.edu.cn

Received 17th September 2019 , Accepted 17th September 2019
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Vipin Kumar

Materials Horizons Community Board Member Dr Vipin Kumar received his PhD in Materials Science from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at NTU Singapore in 2016. He then worked as a research fellow from 2016 to 2017 at NTU Singapore. He was awarded the Inspire Faculty Award from the Department of Science & Technology (DST), India in 2017. He moved to the Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore in 2017, and worked as a scientist for nearly 2 years. He is currently working as an Assistant Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bhubaneswar (IIT BBS), India. He has contributed to various research projects, including electrochemical energy storage using oxide-nanomaterials, miniaturized gas sensor devices based on nanowires and nanosheets assembly, and alkali metal anodes for high performance batteries. His current research interests lie in electrochemical energy storage using metal–sulfur batteries (e.g. Na–S), and flexible and stretchable chemical vapour sensors based on layered materials for environmental applications.

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Kai Zhu

Materials Horizons Community Board member Dr Kai Zhu received his PhD from Jilin University, China and the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Japan in 2016. At present, he is an Assistant Professor at the College of Material Science and Chemical Engineering, Harbin Engineering University. His research interests mainly focus on the design and synthesis of advanced materials for electrochemical energy storage.

Materials Horizons and Nanoscale Horizons set up their Community Boards several years ago, aiming to support early career researchers so they can share their experiences and ideas on scientific publishing. As future leaders in their respective fields, the Community Boards also provide a channel for members to build relationships across their research community and develop their own editorial skills.

We are delighted to continue our series of post-publication online article collections, led by our Community Board members across both Materials Horizons and Nanoscale Horizons.

Working together and sharing their unique areas of expertise, our Community Board members have recommended several key topics where significant, rapid progress has been made in the last 2 years. They have selected top articles published in the Horizons journals to showcase the most important advances in each topic area.

Advanced energy storage

Vipin Kumar and Kai Zhu present the third Horizons Community Board Collection on emerging 2D materials for energy and electronics applications.

Read the collection here.

The ever-increasing demand for energy has driven the development of energy-storage technologies to go beyond lithium-ion batteries. As a consequence, a plethora of advanced energy storage technologies have emerged in recent years, for instance lithium–sulphur (Li–S), sodium–air (Na–O2), and zinc–air (Zn–O2), as well as other flexible/wearable supercapacitors. Li–S batteries promise ultra-high energy density (e.g., many-fold higher than that of commercial Li-ion batteries), while next-generation supercapacitors offer improved performance with additional functionality and could be a potential contender for future energy intensive applications.

This themed collection compiles recent research and review articles focused mainly on electrochemical energy storage using batteries, i.e., post Li-ion batteries, and flexible/wearable supercapacitors beyond H+- and Li+-ion.

Due to the limited theoretical capacity of electrode materials, the performance of Li-ion batteries is reaching a plateau, so constant research efforts are in progress to explore possible strategies to improve their performance (Meng et al. DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00801E, Hu et al. DOI: 10.1039/C9NH00327D and De Jesus et al. DOI: 10.1039/C8MH00037A). As a result, Li–O2 or Li–S batteries could be able to function stably by carefully manipulating the chemical and physical properties of the cathode component, as recently demonstrated by Meng et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C7MH01014A), Zhou et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8NH00289D), Chang et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00510E) and Luo et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8NH00343B). Li et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C8NH00170G) comprehensively summarized the uniqueness of 2D nanomaterials in stabilizing the metal anode, as well as the sulphur cathode for metal–sulphur batteries. In addition, the surface functionality of the separator is crucial in altering the diffusion of polysulfide species (Moorthy et al. DOI: 10.1039/C8NH00172C). Due to the limited resources of lithium, energy storage using alternative low-cost batteries is gaining momentum, for instance Na-ion batteries (Wang et al. DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00512A), Na–O2 batteries (Xu et al. DOI: 10.1039/C8MH01375F) and Zn–O2 batteries (Han et al. DOI: 10.1039/C9MH00502A). The ability of supercapacitor devices to bridge the gap between high energy density batteries and high power density capacitors gives them an additional degree of freedom to be explored further (Wen et al. DOI: 10.1039/C8MH00708J). In this regard, non-traditional ions such as NH4+-ions, K-ions, and Na-ions have been explored to enhance the energy density, while maintaining the significance of the high power density. Besides that, Shao et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C7MH00441A), Park et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C7NH00024C) and He et al. (DOI: 10.1039/C9MH00063A) have altered device configuration to improve the performance without sacrificing their ability to bend, roll and stretch.

These reports show that high performance energy storage solutions are urgently required to satisfy the growing demand for portable energy. We hope that this themed collection will provide valuable information to readers, and could help to drive future developments in the field of energy storage.

Vipin Kumar and Kai Zhu

This journal is © The Royal Society of Chemistry 2019