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With this page, we aim to highlight the most interesting research works published by Nature Communications in the broad topic of energy. Our ultimate goal is to stimulate debate in the multiple fields where energy is the core.
Authors demonstrate Si-based MIS photoanodes using Al thin-film reactions to create localized conduction paths through the insulator and Ni electrodeposition to form metal catalyst islands. These approaches yielded low onset potential, high saturation current density, and excellent stability.
It is of high demand yet challenging to boost the efficiency of solar driven hydrogen peroxide synthesis. Herein, the authors intergrade perovskite-based photocathode and oxidised buckypaper for unassisted solar H2O2 production with a solar-to-chemical conversion efficiency of ~1.463 %.
All-solid-state batteries are promising alternatives to Li-ion batteries. Here, the authors investigate the chemo-mechanical changes at the lithium metal/solid electrolyte interface via operando acoustic transmission and magnetic resonance imaging.
Designing electrode materials for mild and additive-free activation of C–H bonds is of great challenge. The authors report the application of electron-deficient W2C nanocrystal electrodes to boost the dissociation of C-H bonds toward the efficient alkoxylation and hydrogen evolution reactions.
Mechanical integrity issues are one of the main causes of limited long-term cycle stability for Ni-rich cathode materials. Here the authors analyse the roles of cobalt and manganese and utilise a concentration gradient design to mitigate these issues.
The origins of the superior catalytic activity of poorly crystallized Ir-based oxide material for the OER in acid is still under debate. Here, authors synthesize porous IrMo oxides to deconvolute the effect of Ir oxidation state from short-range ordering and show the latter to be a key factor.
Perovskite photovoltaics has become more competitive against silicon counterpart in reducing cost of solar energy, yet the management of toxic lead hampers it application. Here, the authors propose a cost-effective environmental-friendly approach to recycle lead and transparent conductors.
Development of all-solid-state batteries requires stable solid electrolyte-electrode interfaces. Here, via exchange-NMR measurements, the authors investigate the positive electrode-solid electrolyte interface, revealing the impact of an inorganic coating on the Li-ion transport properties.
The development of anode-free batteries requires fundamental investigations at the current collector/electrolyte interface. Here, the authors report an atomically defective carbon current collector to improve the electrochemical behaviour of an anode-free Li-based cell.
CO2 conversion driven by light is a promising strategy to synchronously overcome global warming and energy-supply issues. Here the authors show that the sulfur defect engineering on a quaternary AgInP2S6 atomic layer can excitingly change the CO2 photoreduction reaction pathway to the generation of ethene.
The high platinum loadings at the cathodes of proton exchange membrane fuel cells significantly contribute to the cost of these clean energy conversion devices. Here, the authors critically review and discuss recent developments on low- and non-platinum-based cathode catalysts and catalyst layers.
Lithium metal batteries offer high-capacity electrical energy storage but suffer from poor reversibility of the metal anode. Here, the authors report that at very high capacities, lithium deposits as dense structures with a preferred crystallite orientation, yielding highly reversible lithium anodes.
The Z-scheme photocatalytic system is promising for producing renewable energy by sunlight, but the optimization of multiple materials is challenging. Here, authors directly map out the photocatalytic activity on a microscopic scale by the clustering analysis for the time-resolved image sequence.
The energy content increase is of paramount importance for the development of future Li-based batteries. Here, the authors propose a gel polymer electrolyte in combination with a positive electrode comprising of a Li-rich oxide active material and graphite to produce a high-energy Li metal cell.
Deep eutectic solvents (DES) are intriguing green reaction media for biomass processing, however, undesired lignin condensation is a typical drawback. Here the authors develop a tunable ternary DES system that allows for stabilization of reactive intermediates for efficient lignocellulose fractionation.
Activation of anionic redox in battery materials promises great benefits for battery materials, but remains an elusive phenomenon. Here, the authors present anion-doping as a novel strategy to unlock electrochemical activity in the cobalt/nickel free cathode material, Li2TiS3-xSex.
Large-scale manufacturing of high-energy Li-ion cells is of paramount importance for developing efficient rechargeable battery systems. Here, the authors report in-depth discussions and evaluations on the use of silicon-containing anodes together with insertion-based cathodes.
Single-crystal Ni-rich cathodes suffer from side reactions with the electrolyte and slow Li-ion transport during high-voltage cycling. Herein, a Li1.4Y0.4Ti1.6(PO4)3 coating is applied to facilitate the Li-ion transport and improve the cycling life of the cell.
Seawater electrolysis is promising for grid-scale H2 production without freshwater reliance, but high energy costs and detrimental Cl chemistry reduce its practical potential. Here, authors developed an energy-saving hybrid seawater electrolyzer for chlorine-free H2 production and N2H4 degradation.
Research on the bulk internal electric field (IEF) regulation is significant for designing high-efficiency photocatalysts. Here, the authors report distinctive bismuth oxyhydroxide nanorods photocatalyst and increase the bulk IEF intensity by halogen ions exchange.
Ultrafast diffraction is fundamental in capturing the structural dynamics of molecules. Here, the authors establish a variant of quantum state tomography for arbitrary degrees of freedom to characterize the molecular quantum states, which will enable the reconstruction of a quantum molecular movie from diffraction data.
High-nitrogen content polyhedral molecules are of fundamental interest for theory and for synthesis applications. The authors, using isomer selective, tunable soft photoionization reflectron time-of-flight mass spectrometry, identify the formation of a hitherto elusive prismatic P3N3 molecule during sublimation of PH3 and N2 ice mixtures exposed to energetic electrons.
Suppressing phase transitions is crucial for the layered lithium/sodium transition metal oxide cathodes in batteries. Here, the authors report a water-mediated strategy to mitigate the phase transitions and boost electrochemical performances of manganese-based layered cathodes for cost-effective Na-ion batteries.
Controlled generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) is essential in biological, chemical, and environmental fields. Here, the authors report that ultrasonication can induce polarization of inert poly(tetrafluoroethylene) to a piezoelectric electret and drive piezocatalytic generation of aqueous ROS.
Polymer electrolyte fuel cells are promising but suffer from low performance. Here, the authors use a combination of electrochemical measurements and molecular dynamics simulations to reveal the role of the highly oxygen permeable ionomer in polymer electrolyte fuel cells that enhances the oxygen transport and catalytic activity.
Two-dimensional covalent organic frameworks are expected to boost photocatalytic H2 evolution from water splitting, but are not stable in photocatalysis. Here, authors demonstrate that photocatalytic performances can be enhanced by stabilizing layered stacking via a polymer-infiltration strategy.
Plastic upcycling to value-added products is of great interests. Here the authors investigate a nickel-cobalt phosphide electrocatalyst for electroreforming of polyethylene terephthalate plastic toward valuable potassium diformate, terephthalic acid, and H2 fuel.
A highly efficient, stable, low-cost and environmentally friendly photocathode is the goal of practical solar hydrogen evolution applications. Here, authors report a Cu3BiS3-based photocathode and Cu3BiS3-BiVO4 tandem cell for unbiased overall solar water splitting with a STH efficiency over 2%.
Stable inorganic solid electrolytes are instrumental in developing high-voltage Li metal batteries. Here, the authors present the synthesis and electrochemical energy storage properties of a cost-effective and humidity-tolerant chloride solid electrolyte.
An optimized transport of anions and cations is essential for the development of practical alkali metal batteries. Here, the authors report the use of Ti0.87O2 nanosheets as coating material of polypropylene separators for Li-S, Li-Se and Na-Se cells.
Coupling photocatalyst-coated optical fibers (P-OFs) with LEDs shows potential in environmental applications. Here the authors report a strategy to maximize P-OF light usage and simultaneously establish a new platform to quantify photocatalytic performance.
Quantification of Li ions in local area is key to understand the degradation of Li ion batteries. Here the authors report Li compositional gradient evolution in the cathode after charge-discharge cycles using a complementary study via atom probe tomography and scanning transmission electron microscopy.
The full characterisation of lithium-ion electrolytes is of paramount importance for the continued development and innovation of lithium ion and lithium metal batteries. Here, the authors present a new experimental setup to obtain all key electrolyte parameters using operando Raman microspectroscopy
High-performance cathode materials are crucial for the development of solid oxide fuel cells. Here, the authors present a nanoengineering approach to boost cathode performance in conventional anode-supported cells, demonstrating a viable route to attaining higher power output.
The current biorefineries yield lignin with inadequate fractionation for bioconversion, yet substantial changes of these biorefinery designs could jeopardize carbohydrate efficiency and increase capital costs. Here the authors resolve the dilemma by designing ‘plug-in processes of lignin’ to enable economic waste valorization.
Electrocatalytic nanocarbon (EN) is a class of materials receiving intense interest as next generation electrocatalysts. Although impressive platforms, work is still required to develop our mechanistic understanding of them to that of molecular electrocatalysts.
Rechargeable calcium batteries are promising multivalent battery systems but the lack of suitable electrodes hampers their development. Here the authors report a cathode derived from polyanion framework that demonstrates uncommonly stable and fast intercalation behaviours of calcium ions.
Developing efficient and stable earth-abundant electrocatalysts for acidic oxygen evolution reaction is challenging. Here, the authors modify the local bonding environment of Co3O4 by CeO2 nanocrystallites to regulate the redox properties, thus enhance the catalytic activity.
Performance of perovskite photovoltaics is greatly affected by undesirable defects that contribute to non-radiative losses. Here, the authors mitigate these losses by doping perovskite with KI to alter the dielectric response, thus defect capturing probability, resulting in inverted device with PCE of 22.3% and low voltage loss.
Liquefied gas electrolytes (LGE) can enable the operation of electrochemical devices in cold conditions but their high vapour pressure poses safety concerns. Here, the authors show that the nano-confinement effect of metal-organic framework allows battery with LGE to work at low temperature and reduced pressure.
The scale-up of the coupling of water electroreduction (HER) with organic electrooxidation remains challenging. Here the authors address this challenge by coupling HER with electrooxidation of raw biomass chitin, cogenerating acetate and green hydrogen safely at high current density.
The solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) strongly affects the cycling behaviour of rechargeable alkali metal cells. Here, the authors investigate via cryo-electron microscopy the SEI formed on a Na metal electrode using fluoroethylene carbonate-containing electrolyte.
The lack of efficient and cost-effective catalysts for H2 oxidation reaction (HOR) hinders the application of anion exchange membrane fuel cells. Here, authors report a ternary nickel-tungsten-copper nanoalloy with marked HOR activity and stability that rivals the benchmark platinum catalyst.
Styrene is an important commodity chemical that is highly energy and CO2 intensive to produce. Here, authors report a redox-oxidative dehydrogenation scheme and a tailored core-shell redox catalyst to convert ethylbenzene to styrene with up to 91.4% single-pass yield and 82% energy savings.
Rechargeable multivalent-ion batteries are promising candidates for future energy storage technologies. Here, the authors develop various aqueous multivalent-ion cells using concentrated aqueous gel electrolytes, sulfur-containing anodes, and high-voltage metal oxide cathodes.
Here, authors demonstrate the ferromagnetic catalyst to facilitate spin polarization in water oxidation reaction. They find the ferromagnetic-exchange-like behaviour between the ferromagnetic catalyst and the adsorbed oxygen species.
Concentrating photo-intensities on photocatalyst has diminishing returns. Here the authors show the catalyst on glass rod waveguide at optimal low intensity results in high efficiency in the gas phase reverse water gas shift reaction in an annular glass cylindrical rod photoreactor.
Development of negative electrode active materials alternative to Ca metal is essential for the progress of Ca-ion battery technology. Here, the authors disclose the proton-assisted Ca-ion storage behavior of a pentacenetetrone organic crystal reporting high-power cell performances.
Understanding the mechanism of non-radiative losses in organic photovoltaics is crucial to improve the performance further. Here, the authors use combined device and spectroscopic data to reveal universal model to maximise exciton splitting and charge separation by adjusting the energy of charge transfer state.