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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

    Hydrogen is an attractive alternative fuel, but many hydrogen-conversion electrocatalysts contain expensive materials. Here the authors report a dual-gas breathing hydrogen/air biofuel cell comprised of a modified polymer/hydrogenase bioanode and a bilirubin oxidase biocathode, delivering improved output.

    • Julian Szczesny
    • , Nikola Marković
    • , Felipe Conzuelo
    • , Sónia Zacarias
    • , Inês A. C. Pereira
    • , Wolfgang Lubitz
    • , Nicolas Plumeré
    • , Wolfgang Schuhmann
    •  &  Adrian Ruff
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Uniformly distributing nanoparticles on nanofibres can benefit electrocatalysis by increasing surface area, but it is complex. Here the authors use facile, inexpensive, nozzle-free electrospinning to produce dispersed nanoparticles on nanofibres, attaining increased voltage in a commercial-scale fuel cell.

    • Norbert Radacsi
    • , Fernando Diaz Campos
    • , Calum R. I. Chisholm
    •  &  Konstantinos P. Giapis
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Highly active catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction are valuable for fuel cells. Here the authors evaluate catalytic activity of single-crystal platinum electrodes in acidic solutions that contain hydrophobic cations, which prevent the adsorption of poisoning species and form an efficient interface.

    • Tomoaki Kumeda
    • , Hiroo Tajiri
    • , Osami Sakata
    • , Nagahiro Hoshi
    •  &  Masashi Nakamura
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Carbonate-based electrolytes can impart advantages in lithium sulfur batteries, but performance is often limited by incompatibility with sulfur-based cathodes. Here the authors elucidate a mechanism for conversion of sulfur to lithium sulfide and demonstrate improved performance in a Li-S cell.

    • Xia Li
    • , Mohammad Banis
    • , Andrew Lushington
    • , Xiaofei Yang
    • , Qian Sun
    • , Yang Zhao
    • , Changqi Liu
    • , Qizheng Li
    • , Biqiong Wang
    • , Wei Xiao
    • , Changhong Wang
    • , Minsi Li
    • , Jianwen Liang
    • , Ruying Li
    • , Yongfeng Hu
    • , Lyudmila Goncharova
    • , Huamin Zhang
    • , Tsun-Kong Sham
    •  &  Xueliang Sun
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Biofuel cells offer biocompatibility and operation at mild conditions, but application is limited by relatively low output power. Here the authors use layer-by-layer assembly for glucose oxidase-coated metallic cotton fibers for use as electrodes in a hybrid biofuel cell to achieve high output power.

    • Cheong Hoon Kwon
    • , Yongmin Ko
    • , Dongyeeb Shin
    • , Minseong Kwon
    • , Jinho Park
    • , Wan Ki Bae
    • , Seung Woo Lee
    •  &  Jinhan Cho
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Lightweight and flexible energy storage devices are needed to persistently power wearable devices. Here the authors employ metallized carbon fabrics as hosts for sulfur and lithium to achieve flexibility, electrochemical stability and high energy density in a lithium-sulfur battery.

    • Jian Chang
    • , Jian Shang
    • , Yongming Sun
    • , Luis K. Ono
    • , Dongrui Wang
    • , Zhijun Ma
    • , Qiyao Huang
    • , Dongdong Chen
    • , Guoqiang Liu
    • , Yi Cui
    • , Yabing Qi
    •  &  Zijian Zheng

Adam Weingarten

  • 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
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Understanding reaction mechanisms is crucial for catalyst design. Here, natural-abundance isotope quantifications of O2 yield mechanistically significant reaction kinetic isotope effects for water oxidation over metal oxide electrodes, the bottleneck step of water electrolysis.

    • Sandra Haschke
    • , Michael Mader
    • , Stefanie Schlicht
    • , André M. Roberts
    • , Alfredo M. Angeles-Boza
    • , Johannes A. C. Barth
    •  &  Julien Bachmann
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Understanding fundamental processes that occur using solar-to-fuel conversion materials is crucial for constructing effective renewable energy collection. Here, authors find the hydrogen peroxide light-driven hole-scavenging mechanism over haematite to proceed with two active sites rather than one

    • Yotam Y. Avital
    • , Hen Dotan
    • , Dino Klotz
    • , Daniel A. Grave
    • , Anton Tsyganok
    • , Bhavana Gupta
    • , Sofia Kolusheva
    • , Iris Visoly-Fisher
    • , Avner Rothschild
    •  &  Arik Yochelis
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While quantum dots show high efficiency solar-to-fuel conversion for renewable energy, the frequently toxic elements employed present severe safety concerns. Here, authors demonstrate indium phosphide quantum dots as low-toxicity alternatives alongside efficient hydrogen evolution photocatalysis.

    • Shan Yu
    • , Xiang-Bing Fan
    • , Xian Wang
    • , Jingguo Li
    • , Qian Zhang
    • , Andong Xia
    • , Shiqian Wei
    • , Li-Zhu Wu
    • , Ying Zhou
    •  &  Greta R. Patzke
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Solar-to-chemical CO2 reduction provides a means to use light’s energy for CO2 removal and upgrading to useful products, although this photochemical conversion is challenging. Here, authors construct a Europium-containing metal-organic framework that selectively converts CO2 to formate with light.

    • Zhi-Hao Yan
    • , Ming-Hao Du
    • , Junxue Liu
    • , Shengye Jin
    • , Cheng Wang
    • , Gui-Lin Zhuang
    • , Xiang-Jian Kong
    • , La-Sheng Long
    •  &  Lan-Sun Zheng
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While many heterogeneous chemical transformations require high temperatures, such conditions are costly and corrosive to the catalysts. Here, authors enhance CO2 hydrogenation over metal nanoparticles by light irradiation via an unusual mechanism and reduce the reaction’s energetic demands.

    • Chanyeon Kim
    • , Seokwon Hyeon
    • , Jonghyeok Lee
    • , Whi Dong Kim
    • , Doh C. Lee
    • , Jihan Kim
    •  &  Hyunjoo Lee

Yaoqing Zhang

  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    While magnesium rechargeable batteries could combine high energy density with low cost and good safety, the extremely sluggish reaction kinetics remains to be overcome. Here, the authors show that by using solvated Mg2+ intercalation, the high charge density of bare Mg2+ may be effectively mitigated.

    • Zhenyou Li
    • , Xiaoke Mu
    • , Zhirong Zhao-Karger
    • , Thomas Diemant
    • , R. Jürgen Behm
    • , Christian Kübel
    •  &  Maximilian Fichtner
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Layered NaxMnO2 cathode suffers from structural instability and sluggish kinetics. Here the authors show a method to yield monoclinic NaMn2−y−δ(OH)2y, a new polymorph of Na-birnessite with maximum Na occupancy and enlarged interlayer spacing, enabling outstanding cyclability and rate performance.

    • Hui Xia
    • , Xiaohui Zhu
    • , Jizi Liu
    • , Qi Liu
    • , Si Lan
    • , Qinghua Zhang
    • , Xinyu Liu
    • , Joon Kyo Seo
    • , Tingting Chen
    • , Lin Gu
    •  &  Ying Shirley Meng
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Lithium-free graphite dual-ion battery offers a new means of energy storage. Here the authors show such device utilizing a highly concentrated electrolyte solution of KFSI in alkyl carbonates that exhibits a high energy density and high energy efficiency as well as an average discharge voltage of 4.7 V.

    • Kostiantyn V. Kravchyk
    • , Preeti Bhauriyal
    • , Laura Piveteau
    • , Christoph P. Guntlin
    • , Biswarup Pathak
    •  &  Maksym V. Kovalenko
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Sulfide electrolyte materials offer the opportunity for the development of solid-state batteries. Here the authors further improve the voltage stability of core-shell structured sulfides by modifying the microstructures, and pair the optimized electrolytes with lithium metal anode into battery devices.

    • Fan Wu
    • , William Fitzhugh
    • , Luhan Ye
    • , Jiaxin Ning
    •  &  Xin Li
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Aligning 2D nanosheets to form a compact layered structure can maximize the in-plane properties. Here the authors report an efficient and scalable continuous centrifugal casting method to produce highly compact and well-aligned films of GO nanosheets that show record performances in some applications.

    • Jing Zhong
    • , Wei Sun
    • , Qinwei Wei
    • , Xitang Qian
    • , Hui-Ming Cheng
    •  &  Wencai Ren
  • Nature Communications | Article | open

    Sodium–sulfur batteries operating at a high temperature between 300 and 350°C have been used commercially, but the safety issue hinders their wider adoption. Here the authors report a “cocktail optimized” electrolyte system that enables higher electrochemical performance and room-temperature operation.

    • Xiaofu Xu
    • , Dong Zhou
    • , Xianying Qin
    • , Kui Lin
    • , Feiyu Kang
    • , Baohua Li
    • , Devaraj Shanmukaraj
    • , Teofilo Rojo
    • , Michel Armand
    •  &  Guoxiu Wang