Focus |

Energy Materials

Welcome to the Nature Communications Editors’ Highlights webpage on energy materials. Each month our editors select a small number of Articles recently published in Nature Communications that they believe are particularly interesting or important.

The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the area of energy materials at Nature Communications. Each editor handles a different area of this research, as described below:

Jacilynn Brant handles manuscripts dealing with energy storage and conversion, including supercapacitors, triboelectric nanogenerators, and fuel cells.

Adam Weingarten handles chemistry-related manuscripts that involve electrocatalytic and photocatalytic applications.

Yaoqing Zhang handles electrochemical energy storage including batteries, solid state ionics, and some aspects of inorganic chemistry.

 

 

Jacilynn Brant

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Photosynthetic proteins are used to harvest solar energy in bio-photovoltaics, but are typically not investigated for charge storage. Here the authors report prolonged charge storage in multilayers of photoproteins as well as a proof-of-principle biophotonic power cell with purple bacterial photoproteins.

    • Sai Kishore Ravi
    • , Piper Rawding
    • , Abdelnaby M. Elshahawy
    • , Kevin Huang
    • , Wanxin Sun
    • , Fangfang Zhao
    • , John Wang
    • , Michael R. Jones
    •  &  Swee Ching Tan
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Textiles that can convert mechanical energy into electricity are attractive for wearable electronic devices, but application is hindered by stability, flexibility, and stretchability. Here the authors report scalable fabrication for a stretchable triboelectric yarn that is operational under water.

    • Wei Gong
    • , Chengyi Hou
    • , Jie Zhou
    • , Yinben Guo
    • , Wei Zhang
    • , Yaogang Li
    • , Qinghong Zhang
    •  &  Hongzhi Wang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Proton exchange membranes with short-pathway through-plane proton conductivity are attractive for proton exchange membrane fuel cells. Here the authors align proton conducting channels orthogonal to the plane of composite proton exchange membranes using a magnetic field for improved fuel cell performance.

    • Xin Liu
    • , Yi Li
    • , Jiandang Xue
    • , Weikang Zhu
    • , Junfeng Zhang
    • , Yan Yin
    • , Yanzhou Qin
    • , Kui Jiao
    • , Qing Du
    • , Bowen Cheng
    • , Xupin Zhuang
    • , Jianxin Li
    •  &  Michael D. Guiver
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Key features of tin, including electronic band structure and opto-electronic properties, are influenced by the crystal structure. Here the authors report a microplasma process for the synthesis of ultra-small tin nanocrystals in which the crystal structure is dependent on crystallite size.

    • Atta Ul Haq
    • , Sadegh Askari
    • , Anna McLister
    • , Sean Rawlinson
    • , James Davis
    • , Supriya Chakrabarti
    • , Vladimir Svrcek
    • , Paul Maguire
    • , Pagona Papakonstantinou
    •  &  Davide Mariotti
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Exsolution is attractive for the preparation of catalytically active metal nanoparticles, but versatility is limited. Here the authors report a technique for selective exsolution through topotactic ion exchange, leading to an electrocatalyst for a solid oxide fuel cell with enhanced performance.

    • Sangwook Joo
    • , Ohhun Kwon
    • , Kyeounghak Kim
    • , Seona Kim
    • , Hyunmin Kim
    • , Jeeyoung Shin
    • , Hu Young Jeong
    • , Sivaprakash Sengodan
    • , Jeong Woo Han
    •  &  Guntae Kim
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Rapid nucleation and growth hinder the formation of atomically dispersed metals on solid supports in solution. Here the authors report a low-temperature solution-phase synthesis for isolated cobalt atoms on nitrogen-doped carbon, with electrocatalytic activity for oxygen reduction in a microbial fuel cell.

    • Kai Huang
    • , Le Zhang
    • , Ting Xu
    • , Hehe Wei
    • , Ruoyu Zhang
    • , Xiaoyuan Zhang
    • , Binghui Ge
    • , Ming Lei
    • , Jing-Yuan Ma
    • , Li-Min Liu
    •  &  Hui Wu

Adam Weingarten

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While CO2 reduction proves an appealing means to convert greenhouse emissions to high-value products, there are few materials capable of such a conversion. Here, the authors demonstrate a liquid-metal electrocatalyst to convert CO2 directly into solid carbon that can be used as capacitor electrodes.

    • Dorna Esrafilzadeh
    • , Ali Zavabeti
    • , Rouhollah Jalili
    • , Paul Atkin
    • , Jaecheol Choi
    • , Benjamin J. Carey
    • , Robert Brkljača
    • , Anthony P. O’Mullane
    • , Michael D. Dickey
    • , David L. Officer
    • , Douglas R. MacFarlane
    • , Torben Daeneke
    •  &  Kourosh Kalantar-Zadeh
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While the conversion of CO2 to valuable, storable chemicals is attractive, there are few inexpensive and abundant catalysts that are also active and selective for liquid fuels. Here, the authors study copper selenide as a high-performing and efficient electrocatalyst for CO2 conversion to methanol.

    • Dexin Yang
    • , Qinggong Zhu
    • , Chunjun Chen
    • , Huizhen Liu
    • , Zhimin Liu
    • , Zhijuan Zhao
    • , Xiaoyu Zhang
    • , Shoujie Liu
    •  &  Buxing Han
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Hydrogen production from water provides one avenue toward harnessing renewable energy, although large-scale implementation remains a challenge. Here, authors explore roles of morphology and surface chemistry, and develop efficient catalysts for hydrogen evolution at high current densities.

    • Yuting Luo
    • , Lei Tang
    • , Usman Khan
    • , Qiangmin Yu
    • , Hui-Ming Cheng
    • , Xiaolong Zou
    •  &  Bilu Liu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    CO2 conversion to reduced products provides a use for greenhouse gases, but reaction complexity stymies mechanistic studies. Here, authors present a microkinetic model for CO2 and CO reduction on copper, based on ab initio simulations, to elucidate pH’s impact on competitive reaction pathways.

    • Xinyan Liu
    • , Philomena Schlexer
    • , Jianping Xiao
    • , Yongfei Ji
    • , Lei Wang
    • , Robert B. Sandberg
    • , Michael Tang
    • , Kristopher S. Brown
    • , Hongjie Peng
    • , Stefan Ringe
    • , Christopher Hahn
    • , Thomas F. Jaramillo
    • , Jens K. Nørskov
    •  &  Karen Chan
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The precise control over nanoscale structures is crucial in developing new, functional nanomaterials. Here, authors demonstrate a controllable method to epitaxially stack CdS quantum dots into ZnS nanowires and show improved photocatalytic hydrogen evolution activities.

    • Yi Li
    • , Tao-Tao Zhuang
    • , Fengjia Fan
    • , Oleksandr Voznyy
    • , Mikhail Askerka
    • , Haiming Zhu
    • , Liang Wu
    • , Guo-Qiang Liu
    • , Yun-Xiang Pan
    • , Edward H. Sargent
    •  &  Shu-Hong Yu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While plasmonic nanoparticles offer new opportunities for photocatalysis, understanding the underlying effects remains challenging. Here, the authors visualize plasmon-driven dehydrogenation reaction within individual palladium nanoparticles using light-coupled transmission electron microscopy.

    • Michal Vadai
    • , Daniel K. Angell
    • , Fariah Hayee
    • , Katherine Sytwu
    •  &  Jennifer A. Dionne

Yaoqing Zhang

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    All-solid-state batteries could deliver high energy densities without using organic liquid electrolytes. Here the authors report a complex hydride Li-ion conductor 0.7Li(CB9H10)–0.3Li(CB11H12) that exhibits impressive ionic conductivity and other electrochemical characteristics in an all-solid-state cell.

    • Sangryun Kim
    • , Hiroyuki Oguchi
    • , Naoki Toyama
    • , Toyoto Sato
    • , Shigeyuki Takagi
    • , Toshiya Otomo
    • , Dorai Arunkumar
    • , Naoaki Kuwata
    • , Junichi Kawamura
    •  &  Shin-ichi Orimo
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Sodium ion batteries are known to benefit from the use of ether electrolytes. Here the authors reveal the origin showing that the energy barrier of charge transfer at the electrolyte/electrode interface dominates the interfacial electrochemical characteristics and is favorably small.

    • Kaikai Li
    • , Jun Zhang
    • , Dongmei Lin
    • , Da-Wei Wang
    • , Baohua Li
    • , Wei Lv
    • , Sheng Sun
    • , Yan-Bing He
    • , Feiyu Kang
    • , Quan-Hong Yang
    • , Limin Zhou
    •  &  Tong-Yi Zhang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The lithium metal is a promising anode material for batteries; however, the growth of dendrite and its instability against moisture are two technical challenges. Here the authors address both issues by introducing a bifunctional layer consisting of hydrophobic graphite fluoride and lithium fluoride.

    • Xiaowei Shen
    • , Yutao Li
    • , Tao Qian
    • , Jie Liu
    • , Jinqiu Zhou
    • , Chenglin Yan
    •  &  John B. Goodenough
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Developing thick electrodes could enable high-energy-density Li-ion batteries, however, above a critical thickness, the mass transport issues become dominating. Here the authors show that MXene can serve as a conductive binder leading to thick silicon anodes (up to 450 µm) with high areal capacity.

    • Chuanfang (John) Zhang
    • , Sang-Hoon Park
    • , Andrés Seral‐Ascaso
    • , Sebastian Barwich
    • , Niall McEvoy
    • , Conor S. Boland
    • , Jonathan N. Coleman
    • , Yury Gogotsi
    •  &  Valeria Nicolosi
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Confinement within nanospace could significantly alter the properties of chemical species. Here the authors report the negative dielectric constant of water confined in nanosheets that can enhance the capacitance of electric-double layer capacitor electrodes.

    • Akira Sugahara
    • , Yasunobu Ando
    • , Satoshi Kajiyama
    • , Koji Yazawa
    • , Kazuma Gotoh
    • , Minoru Otani
    • , Masashi Okubo
    •  &  Atsuo Yamada
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Na3V2(PO4)2F3 is a promising cathode material for Na-ion batteries, although its third sodium is usually not accessible electrochemically. Here the authors realize a disordered tetragonal NVPF phase, which can reversibly uptake 3 Na-ions and enables improved energy density for the NVPF/C full cell.

    • Guochun Yan
    • , Sathiya Mariyappan
    • , Gwenaelle Rousse
    • , Quentin Jacquet
    • , Michael Deschamps
    • , Renald David
    • , Boris Mirvaux
    • , John William Freeland
    •  &  Jean-Marie Tarascon