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

    Pseudocapacitive materials could enable high-performance electrochemical supercapacitors, but their practical capacitance and power density remain low. Here the authors show that in situ phase transformation triggers extraordinary pseudocapacitive energy storage in metallic isomeric vanadium oxides.

    • Bo-Tian Liu
    • , Xiang-Mei Shi
    • , Xing-You Lang
    • , Lin Gu
    • , Zi Wen
    • , Ming Zhao
    •  &  Qing Jiang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The hydrogen evolution reaction is a promising route to produce clean hydrogen fuel; however, its efficient electrolytic generation relies on expensive platinum. Here, the authors show how modulating electron density in a metal sulfide, NiCo2S4, boosts hydrogen desorption to achieve high catalytic activity.

    • Yishang Wu
    • , Xiaojing Liu
    • , Dongdong Han
    • , Xianyin Song
    • , Lei Shi
    • , Yao Song
    • , Shuwen Niu
    • , Yufang Xie
    • , Jinyan Cai
    • , Shaoyang Wu
    • , Jian Kang
    • , Jianbin Zhou
    • , Zhiyan Chen
    • , Xusheng Zheng
    • , Xiangheng Xiao
    •  &  Gongming Wang
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    One way to improve the performance of supercapacitors is to use hybrid carbon nanomaterials. Here the authors show a bioinspired electrode design with graphene petals and carbon nanotube arrays serving as leaves and branchlets, respectively. The structure affords excellent electrochemical characteristics.

    • Guoping Xiong
    • , Pingge He
    • , Zhipeng Lyu
    • , Tengfei Chen
    • , Boyun Huang
    • , Lei Chen
    •  &  Timothy S. Fisher
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Bio-inspired Ni-based molecular catalysts are efficient for H2 oxidation, but are suffering from the poor stability in the presence of O2. Here, the authors develop a strategy to boost greatly their stability by dispersing them in a hydrophobic and redox-silent polymer matrix.

    • Alaa A. Oughli
    • , Adrian Ruff
    • , Nilusha Priyadarshani Boralugodage
    • , Patricia Rodríguez-Maciá
    • , Nicolas Plumeré
    • , Wolfgang Lubitz
    • , Wendy J. Shaw
    • , Wolfgang Schuhmann
    •  &  Olaf Rüdiger
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Tribocharging, or the buildup of charge on surfaces after they are rubbed together, can play unusual roles in material behavior, yet it is unclear how nanostructuring impacts charge buildup and distribution. Here, authors use replica molding to localize and pattern charges around nanocup rims.

    • Qiang Li
    • , Akshit Peer
    • , In Ho Cho
    • , Rana Biswas
    •  &  Jaeyoun Kim
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Quantifying the individual capacitance contributions of in-pore ions during charging remains a challenge. Here the authors design silica-grafted ionic liquids to reveal the charging behaviors of cations and anions separately, providing fresh insight into the storage mechanism of supercapacitors.

    • Qingyun Dou
    • , Lingyang Liu
    • , Bingjun Yang
    • , Junwei Lang
    •  &  Xingbin Yan

Adam Weingarten

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Single atom catalysts provide the most efficient metal atoms usage and afford active site homogeneity, but surface attachment has proven challenging. Here, the authors use triple-bond-rich graphdiyne to anchor nickel/iron atoms and show high hydrogen evolution electrocatalysis activities.

    • Yurui Xue
    • , Bolong Huang
    • , Yuanping Yi
    • , Yuan Guo
    • , Zicheng Zuo
    • , Yongjun Li
    • , Zhiyu Jia
    • , Huibiao Liu
    •  &  Yuliang Li
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The development of efficient catalysts for electrochemical carbon dioxide conversion is hindered by a lack of rationalization. Here, authors use microfabricated electrodes to study the birth of active sites around interfaces in multicomponent copper-based catalysts during carbon dioxide reduction.

    • Gastón O. Larrazábal
    • , Tatsuya Shinagawa
    • , Antonio J. Martín
    •  &  Javier Pérez-Ramírez
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While photoelectrochemical devices combine light-absorption with fuel and electricity generation, their implementation is hampered by high costs and low output. Here, the authors synthesized acetylene-rich carbon fibers by copper-mediated polymerization for high-activity, metal-free photocathodes.

    • Tao Zhang
    • , Yang Hou
    • , Volodymyr Dzhagan
    • , Zhongquan Liao
    • , Guoliang Chai
    • , Markus Löffler
    • , Davide Olianas
    • , Alberto Milani
    • , Shunqi Xu
    • , Matteo Tommasini
    • , Dietrich R. T. Zahn
    • , Zhikun Zheng
    • , Ehrenfried Zschech
    • , Rainer Jordan
    •  &  Xinliang Feng
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Understanding how catalysts corrode during use is crucial in developing new, durable devices. Here, the authors studied the real-time corrosion of core-shell palladium-platinum nanocubes by electron microscopy and found two competitive etching mechanisms to dominate catalyst degradation behavior.

    • Hao Shan
    • , Wenpei Gao
    • , Yalin Xiong
    • , Fenglei Shi
    • , Yucong Yan
    • , Yanling Ma
    • , Wen Shang
    • , Peng Tao
    • , Chengyi Song
    • , Tao Deng
    • , Hui Zhang
    • , Deren Yang
    • , Xiaoqing Pan
    •  &  Jianbo Wu
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Water electrolysis can generate carbon-neutral hydrogen gas from water, yet the required catalysts are often expensive, scarce, and poor at gas release. Here, the authors prepared nitrogen-doped carbon tungstide nanoarrays with high water-splitting activities and bubble-releasing surfaces.

    • Nana Han
    • , Ke R. Yang
    • , Zhiyi Lu
    • , Yingjie Li
    • , Wenwen Xu
    • , Tengfei Gao
    • , Zhao Cai
    • , Ying Zhang
    • , Victor S. Batista
    • , Wen Liu
    •  &  Xiaoming Sun
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Trapping carbon dioxide within usable chemicals is a promising means to mitigate climate change, yet electrochemical C–C couplings are challenging to perform. Here, the authors prepared iron oxyhydroxides on nitrogen-doped carbon that efficiently convert carbon dioxide to acetic acid.

    • Chiara Genovese
    • , Manfred E. Schuster
    • , Emma K. Gibson
    • , Diego Gianolio
    • , Victor Posligua
    • , Ricardo Grau-Crespo
    • , Giannantonio Cibin
    • , Peter P. Wells
    • , Debi Garai
    • , Vladyslav Solokha
    • , Sandra Krick Calderon
    • , Juan J. Velasco-Velez
    • , Claudio Ampelli
    • , Siglinda Perathoner
    • , Georg Held
    • , Gabriele Centi
    •  &  Rosa Arrigo

Yaoqing Zhang

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    The dendrite growth of alkali metal anodes leads to charge/discharge cycling instability. Here, the authors show that electrochemical polishing can yield near-perfect anodes of three alkali metals by constructing smooth and thin solid-electrolyte interphase layers.

    • Yu Gu
    • , Wei-Wei Wang
    • , Yi-Juan Li
    • , Qi-Hui Wu
    • , Shuai Tang
    • , Jia-Wei Yan
    • , Ming-Sen Zheng
    • , De-Yin Wu
    • , Chun-Hai Fan
    • , Wei-Qiang Hu
    • , Zhao-Bin Chen
    • , Yuan Fang
    • , Qing-Hong Zhang
    • , Quan-Feng Dong
    •  &  Bing-Wei Mao
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Copper sulfide allows for high-performance sodium ion storage, yet its sodiation mechanism is poorly understood. Here, the authors examine the atomic structures of sodiated phases via in situ transmission electron microscopy, showing a non-equilibrium reaction pathway.

    • Jae Yeol Park
    • , Sung Joo Kim
    • , Joon Ha Chang
    • , Hyeon Kook Seo
    • , Jeong Yong Lee
    •  &  Jong Min Yuk
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Novel cathode design holds the key to enabling high performance lithium-sulfur batteries. Here the authors utilize anthraquinone to chemically stabilize polysulfides, revealing that the keto groups of anthraquinone play a critical role in forming strong Lewis acid-based chemical bonding.

    • Ge Li
    • , Xiaolei Wang
    • , Min Ho Seo
    • , Matthew Li
    • , Lu Ma
    • , Yifei Yuan
    • , Tianpin Wu
    • , Aiping Yu
    • , Shun Wang
    • , Jun Lu
    •  &  Zhongwei Chen
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    A reversible oxygen redox process contributes extra capacity and understanding this behavior is of high importance. Here, aided by resonant inelastic X-ray scattering, the authors reveal the distinctive anionic oxygen activity of battery electrodes with different transition metals.

    • Jing Xu
    • , Meiling Sun
    • , Ruimin Qiao
    • , Sara E. Renfrew
    • , Lu Ma
    • , Tianpin Wu
    • , Sooyeon Hwang
    • , Dennis Nordlund
    • , Dong Su
    • , Khalil Amine
    • , Jun Lu
    • , Bryan D. McCloskey
    • , Wanli Yang
    •  &  Wei Tong
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Sodium ion batteries offer more cost-effective storage than lithium and could be used for grid-scale energy storage. Here, the authors demonstrate a full cell based on a MnHCMn anode and an organic-aqueous cosolvent electrolyte. X-ray spectroscopy evidence further suggests the presence of Mn(I).

    • Ali Firouzi
    • , Ruimin Qiao
    • , Shahrokh Motallebi
    • , Christian W. Valencia
    • , Hannah S. Israel
    • , Mai Fujimoto
    • , L. Andrew Wray
    • , Yi-De Chuang
    • , Wanli Yang
    •  &  Colin D. Wessells
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Metal-organic batteries are gaining traction as versatile, low-cost, and sustainable devices, although there are still few ways to probe internal behavior during use. Here, the authors explore organic-molecule structural changes within several battery systems by in operando infrared spectroscopy.

    • Alen Vizintin
    • , Jan Bitenc
    • , Anja Kopač Lautar
    • , Klemen Pirnat
    • , Jože Grdadolnik
    • , Jernej Stare
    • , Anna Randon-Vitanova
    •  &  Robert Dominko