Browse Articles

  • News & Views |

    The chemistry of the discharge products of metal–oxygen batteries is related to the battery's efficiency but knowledge of their formation mechanism is incomplete. Now, the initial discharge product in sodium–oxygen batteries is shown to be sodium superoxide, which undergoes dissolution and then transforms to sodium peroxide dihydrate.

    • Sampson Lau
    •  & Lynden A. Archer
  • News & Views |

    The oxidation of water is essential to the sustainable production of fuels using sunlight or electricity, but designing active, stable and earth-abundant catalysts for the reaction is challenging. Now, a complex containing five iron atoms is shown to efficiently oxidize water by mimicking key features of the oxygen-evolving complex in green plants.

    • Julio Lloret-Fillol
    •  & Miquel Costas
  • Editorial |

    The European Commission's energy security package lays out the EU's commitment to the Energy Union but leaves some doubt about its commitment to the clean energy transition.

  • Feature |

    Could a partnership between a small town and a large utility help to transform the Australian electricity grid?

    • Michael Green
  • Review Article |

    Solar cells based on solution-processed colloidal quantum dots are promising alternatives to conventional devices. This Review discusses recent advances and outstanding challenges for the field of quantum dot solar cells towards their commercialization.

    • Mingjian Yuan
    • , Mengxia Liu
    •  & Edward H. Sargent
  • Article |

    Solar cells based on CdTe are a promising low-cost alternative to mainstream Si devices, but they usually produce voltages below 900 mV. Burst et al. now show that open-circuit voltages greater than 1 V can be achieved by doping the CdTe with a group V element.

    • J. M. Burst
    • , J. N. Duenow
    • , D. S. Albin
    • , E. Colegrove
    • , M. O. Reese
    • , J. A. Aguiar
    • , C.-S. Jiang
    • , M. K. Patel
    • , M. M. Al-Jassim
    • , D. Kuciauskas
    • , S. Swain
    • , T. Ablekim
    • , K. G. Lynn
    •  & W. K. Metzger
  • News & Views |

    The performance of CdTe solar cells — cheaper alternatives to silicon photovoltaics — is hampered by their low output voltages, which are normally well below the theoretical limit. Now, record voltages of over 1 V have been reported in single-crystal CdTe heterostructure solar cells, which are close to those of benchmark GaAs cells.

    • Jonathan D. Poplawsky
  • Comment |

    Energy modelling has a crucial underpinning role for policy making, but the modelling–policy interface faces several limitations. A reinvention of this interface would better provide timely, targeted, tested, transparent and iterated insights from such complex multidisciplinary tools.

    • Neil Strachan
    • , Birgit Fais
    •  & Hannah Daly
  • Analysis |

    Alternative fuel technologies are crucial to decarbonize transport, but attention has shifted among options over time. This study presents an analysis of media, innovation and funding data for these different options and recommends actions to help move beyond hype to support technology adoption.

    • Noel Melton
    • , Jonn Axsen
    •  & Daniel Sperling
  • Article |

    Uncontrolled lithium deposition during cycling is a major concern in the development of lithium-based batteries. Here, the authors analyse the lithium nucleation pattern on various metal substrates and demonstrate that lithium can be selectively deposited in a nanoseed inside hollow carbon spheres.

    • Kai Yan
    • , Zhenda Lu
    • , Hyun-Wook Lee
    • , Feng Xiong
    • , Po-Chun Hsu
    • , Yuzhang Li
    • , Jie Zhao
    • , Steven Chu
    •  & Yi Cui
  • News & Views |

    Improving the design of catalytic materials for clean energy production requires a better understanding of their electronic properties, which remains experimentally challenging. Researchers now quantify the number of electrons transferred from metal nanoparticles to an oxide support as a function of particle size.

    • Trevor E. James
    •  & Charles T. Campbell
  • News & Views |

    Combined water and power models are important to predict how changes in one resource will impact the other. A new global assessment of hydropower and thermoelectric power plants predicts future vulnerabilities arising from climate-change-induced water constraints and tests possible adaptation options.

    • Silvio J. Pereira-Cardenal
  • Editorial |

    The round-up on last year's global investment in clean energy shows that renewables continued their rapid ascendancy, bringing multiple benefits for all.

  • News & Views |

    Micrometre-sized silicon particles are attractive negative-electrode materials for lithium-ion batteries but are prone to mechanical failure during electrochemical cycling. Now, graphene cages grown conformally around the micro-silicon particles are shown to improve their cycling stability.

    • Thomas F. Fuller
  • Perspective |

    Ontario, Canada, has seen a number of policy measures introduced since 2009 to increase wind energy production. This Perspective explores the impacts and implications of those policies on wind energy disputes in terms of health, financial benefit, community engagement and the landscape.

    • Stewart Fast
    • , Warren Mabee
    • , Jamie Baxter
    • , Tanya Christidis
    • , Liz Driver
    • , Stephen Hill
    • , J. J. McMurtry
    •  & Melody Tomkow
  • News & Views |

    High-performance polymer solar cells are normally processed with halogenated solvents, which are toxic and hazardous. Now, high power-conversion efficiency in bulk-heterojunction devices is achieved by using a non-toxic hydrocarbon solvent through an environmentally friendly processing route.

    • Guoping Luo
    •  & Hongbin Wu
  • Article |

    The processing of high-performance organic solar cells usually requires environmentally hazardous solvents. Now, hydrocarbon-based processing is shown to achieve relatively high performance in a more environmentally friendly way.

    • Jingbo Zhao
    • , Yunke Li
    • , Guofang Yang
    • , Kui Jiang
    • , Haoran Lin
    • , Harald Ade
    • , Wei Ma
    •  & He Yan
  • Article |

    The use of doped-silicon contacts in silicon solar cells adds cost and complexity to the fabrication process. These issues can now be circumvented by using dopant-free carrier-selective interfaces on silicon, realized by alkali metal fluorides and metal oxides.

    • James Bullock
    • , Mark Hettick
    • , Jonas Geissbühler
    • , Alison J. Ong
    • , Thomas Allen
    • , Carolin M. Sutter-Fella
    • , Teresa Chen
    • , Hiroki Ota
    • , Ethan W. Schaler
    • , Stefaan De Wolf
    • , Christophe Ballif
    • , Andrés Cuevas
    •  & Ali Javey
  • Article |

    The thermal degradation of perovskite solar cells is an obstacle to their commercialization. Now, the mechanisms for thermally induced structural and chemical changes are identified by in situ measurements in a transmission electron microscope.

    • G. Divitini
    • , S. Cacovich
    • , F. Matteocci
    • , L. Cinà
    • , A. Di Carlo
    •  & C. Ducati
  • Article |

    Organic–inorganic perovskites are promising materials for photovoltaic devices, however they have poor tolerance to ambient humidity. Now, their surface can be functionalized with water-resistant molecules to stabilize their performance under humid conditions.

    • Shuang Yang
    • , Yun Wang
    • , Porun Liu
    • , Yi-Bing Cheng
    • , Hui Jun Zhao
    •  & Hua Gui Yang
  • Article |

    The efficiency of perovskite solar cells is limited by the performance of the hole-transport material, which extracts charges from the active layer. Here, a molecularly engineered hole transporter with performance comparable to spiro-OMeTAD is demonstrated.

    • Michael Saliba
    • , Simonetta Orlandi
    • , Taisuke Matsui
    • , Sadig Aghazada
    • , Marco Cavazzini
    • , Juan-Pablo Correa-Baena
    • , Peng Gao
    • , Rosario Scopelliti
    • , Edoardo Mosconi
    • , Klaus-Hermann Dahmen
    • , Filippo De Angelis
    • , Antonio Abate
    • , Anders Hagfeldt
    • , Gianluca Pozzi
    • , Michael Graetzel
    •  & Mohammad Khaja Nazeeruddin
  • Article |

    It is challenging to integrate a natural photosystem with a redox enzyme on an electrode to convert light energy into electricity. Now, photo-bioelectrochemical cells with efficient photocurrent generation are demonstrated with such an integration.

    • Ariel Efrati
    • , Chun-Hua Lu
    • , Dorit Michaeli
    • , Rachel Nechushtai
    • , Sabine Alsaoub
    • , Wolfgang Schuhmann
    •  & Itamar Willner
  • Article |

    Many people globally still use solid fuels for cooking and heating, leading to programmes designed to subsidize cleaner alternatives. This study analyses possible effects of climate mitigation policies on fuel costs and hence the effectiveness of such schemes.

    • Colin Cameron
    • , Shonali Pachauri
    • , Narasimha D. Rao
    • , David McCollum
    • , Joeri Rogelj
    •  & Keywan Riahi
  • Review Article |

    The performance of solid-oxide fuel cells and electrolyser cells is largely governed by the electrochemical interface. The authors review the evolution of the interface under operation, highlighting approaches to control and improve interfacial architectures and cell performance.

    • John T. S. Irvine
    • , Dragos Neagu
    • , Maarten C. Verbraeken
    • , Christodoulos Chatzichristodoulou
    • , Christopher Graves
    •  & Mogens B. Mogensen
  • Feature |

    Meeting the world's energy needs requires the collective efforts of many different actors across a range of technologies and approaches. In this Feature, ten leading experts in energy research share their vision of the challenges their respective fields must address in the coming decades.

    • Robert C. Armstrong
    • , Catherine Wolfram
    • , Krijn P. de Jong
    • , Robert Gross
    • , Nathan S. Lewis
    • , Brenda Boardman
    • , Arthur J. Ragauskas
    • , Karen Ehrhardt-Martinez
    • , George Crabtree
    •  & M. V. Ramana
  • Comment |

    Climate change mitigation requires gigatonne-scale CO2 removal technologies, yet few examples exist beyond niche markets. The flexibility of thermochemical conversion of biomass and fossil energy, coupled with carbon capture and storage, offers a route to commercializing carbon-negative energy.

    • Daniel L. Sanchez
    •  & Daniel M. Kammen
  • News & Views |

    Ensuring safety during operation is a major issue in the development of lithium-ion batteries. Coating the electrode current collector with thermoresponsive polymer composites is now shown to rapidly shut the battery down when it overheats, and to quickly resume its function when normal operating conditions return.

    • Khalil Amine
  • Article |

    Advanced batteries require careful control over the interfacial properties of their constituent materials. This study designs hierarchically structured cathode materials that are resistant to surface reconstruction, leading to improved cycling performance.

    • Feng Lin
    • , Dennis Nordlund
    • , Yuyi Li
    • , Matthew K. Quan
    • , Lei Cheng
    • , Tsu-Chien Weng
    • , Yijin Liu
    • , Huolin L. Xin
    •  & Marca M. Doeff
  • Article |

    Precious metals are efficient oxygen electrocatalysts but suffer from poor stability and high cost. Now, nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes derived from metal–organic frameworks are shown to have activity and durability comparable to that of Pt/C catalysts.

    • Bao Yu Xia
    • , Ya Yan
    • , Nan Li
    • , Hao Bin Wu
    • , Xiong Wen (David) Lou
    •  & Xin Wang
  • Editorial |

    Energy systems around the globe are changing in response to new technological developments and environmental and social pressures. Making the most of these changes requires a concerted effort from academia, industry and government — an effort Nature Energy intends to support.

  • Article |

    There is an intensive research effort in suppressing the first-cycle lithium loss in lithium-ion batteries. Now, a cathode prelithiation method with nanocomposites of conversion materials is demonstrated to compensate the initial lithium loss and improve the battery performance.

    • Yongming Sun
    • , Hyun-Wook Lee
    • , Zhi Wei Seh
    • , Nian Liu
    • , Jie Sun
    • , Yuzhang Li
    •  & Yi Cui
  • News & Views |

    Household energy conservation can help to significantly lower energy consumption. Visual cues provided by thermal imaging of heat loss in buildings are now shown to increase energy conserving behaviours and implementations among homeowners more effectively than just performing carbon footprint audits.

    • Linda Steg
  • Comment |

    The past five years have seen substantial cost reductions and greatly increased uptake of photovoltaics. Growth is being driven by ongoing improvements in both silicon solar cell costs and performance, making the commercialization of new technologies increasingly difficult.

    • Martin A. Green
  • Comment |

    Energy storage will play a key role in increasing the use of variable energy sources. Nonetheless, storage is not the only balancing option and the overall design of power systems will incorporate a range of flexible generation, storage and grid-balancing options of different types and scales.

    • David Elliott
  • News & Views |

    The sustainable production of hydrogen is key to the delivery of clean energy in a hydrogen economy; however, lower-cost alternatives to platinum electrocatalysts are needed. Now, isolated, earth-abundant cobalt atoms dispersed over nitrogen-doped graphene are shown to efficiently electrolyse water to generate hydrogen.

    • Aiqin Wang
    •  & Tao Zhang