Latest Research

  • Article |

    Proton-conducting metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) could be used as the electrolytes in proton exchange membrane fuel cells but chemically stable materials that perform well at low humidity are still sought. Here the authors prepare a stable, structurally flexible MOF that maintains high proton conductivity under a wide range of humidity.

    • Fan Yang
    • , Gang Xu
    • , Yibo Dou
    • , Bin Wang
    • , Heng Zhang
    • , Hui Wu
    • , Wei Zhou
    • , Jian-Rong Li
    •  & Banglin Chen
  • Article |

    Sodium-ion batteries are a cost-effective alternative to lithium-ion for large-scale energy storage. Here Bao et al. develop a cathode based on biomass-derived ionic crystals that enables a four-sodium ion storage mechanism leading to exceptionally high specific capacity and energy density.

    • Minah Lee
    • , Jihyun Hong
    • , Jeffrey Lopez
    • , Yongming Sun
    • , Dawei Feng
    • , Kipil Lim
    • , William C. Chueh
    • , Michael F. Toney
    • , Yi Cui
    •  & Zhenan Bao
  • Article |

    Hydrogenation of CO2 over heterogeneous catalysts can produce useful energy vectors such as methanol and formic acid. Here the authors show that the activity of unsupported cobalt catalysts can be markedly enhanced through incorporation of nitrogen atoms into the structure.

    • Liangbing Wang
    • , Wenbo Zhang
    • , Xusheng Zheng
    • , Yizhen Chen
    • , Wenlong Wu
    • , Jianxiang Qiu
    • , Xiangchen Zhao
    • , Xiao Zhao
    • , Yizhou Dai
    •  & Jie Zeng
  • Article |

    Understanding land-use requirements for the life cycle of electricity generation allows for consistent comparisons of different technologies. Jordaan et al. present a method that leverages highly resolved, empirical data sets to give robust estimates of land use for natural-gas-fired electricity.

    • Sarah M. Jordaan
    • , Garvin A. Heath
    • , Jordan Macknick
    • , Brian W. Bush
    • , Ehsan Mohammadi
    • , Dan Ben-Horin
    • , Victoria Urrea
    •  & Danielle Marceau
  • Perspective |

    Urban households in the global south face unique energy access challenges. This Perspective outlines a research agenda based on understanding the needs of urban energy users to promote inclusive urban energy transitions.

    • Vanesa Castán Broto
    • , Lucy Stevens
    • , Emmanuel Ackom
    • , Julia Tomei
    • , Priti Parikh
    • , Iwona Bisaga
    • , Long Seng To
    • , Joshua Kirshner
    •  & Yacob Mulugetta
  • Analysis |

    Governments give a variety of subsidies to fossil fuel companies, but G20 nations have committed to phasing these out. Erickson et al. analyse subsidies provided to new crude oil fields in the US and find that, at current oil prices, nearly half of them depend on these subsidies to proceed.

    • Peter Erickson
    • , Adrian Down
    • , Michael Lazarus
    •  & Doug Koplow
  • Article |

    Membranes that can separate hydrogen from mixed gas streams are important for the production of high-purity hydrogen for use in energy applications such as fuel cells. Here the authors demonstrate that titanium nitrides are promising for ambient temperature hydrogen separation via conduction of hydride ions.

    • Chiharu Kura
    • , Yuji Kunisada
    • , Etsushi Tsuji
    • , Chunyu Zhu
    • , Hiroki Habazaki
    • , Shinji Nagata
    • , Michael P. Müller
    • , Roger A. De Souza
    •  & Yoshitaka Aoki
  • Article |

    Sulfur encapsulation with nanoporous carbon is a widely adopted approach for Li–S batteries, but this often results in low sulfur utilization and low volumetric energy density. Here the authors report a non-encapsulation approach for the growth of S-containing species with low-surface-area carbon and high energy.

    • Huilin Pan
    • , Junzheng Chen
    • , Ruiguo Cao
    • , Vijay Murugesan
    • , Nav Nidhi Rajput
    • , Kee Sung Han
    • , Kristin Persson
    • , Luis Estevez
    • , Mark H. Engelhard
    • , Ji-Guang Zhang
    • , Karl T. Mueller
    • , Yi Cui
    • , Yuyan Shao
    •  & Jun Liu
  • Article |

    Inequality in China ranks as one of the highest in the world. Using household energy consumption data, this study shows that deriving energy from biomass, use of energy for space heating and cooking, and intraregional differences are major contributors to consumption inequality in rural China.

    • Shimei Wu
    • , Xinye Zheng
    •  & Chu Wei
  • Article |

    Organic solar cells can be thin, bendable and strechable. Now, Jinno et al. develop flexible organic photovoltaic devices that can also be washed in water and detergent, opening future integration routes into everyday objects such as fabric.

    • Hiroaki Jinno
    • , Kenjiro Fukuda
    • , Xiaomin Xu
    • , Sungjun Park
    • , Yasuhito Suzuki
    • , Mari Koizumi
    • , Tomoyuki Yokota
    • , Itaru Osaka
    • , Kazuo Takimiya
    •  & Takao Someya
  • Article |

    Hydropower represents the largest source of renewable energy currently available, yet its potential provision remains poorly characterized. Gernaat et al. present a high-resolution global assessment of technical and economic hydropower potential based on an analysis of over 3.8 million individual locations.

    • David E. H. J. Gernaat
    • , Patrick W. Bogaart
    • , Detlef P. van Vuuren
    • , Hester Biemans
    •  & Robin Niessink
  • Article |

    Radiative sky cooling passively rejects heat from a surface out into space via an atmospheric transparency window, enabling sub-ambient cooling. Goldstein et al. exploit this to show daytime cooling of water by up to 5 C below ambient temperature, equivalent to a heat rejection flux of 70 Wm−2.

    • Eli A. Goldstein
    • , Aaswath P. Raman
    •  & Shanhui Fan
  • Perspective |

    Despite being currently under-represented in IPCC reports, PV generation represents a growing share of power generation. This Perspective argues that underestimating PV potential led to suboptimal integration measures and that specific deployment strategies for emerging economies should be developed.

    • Felix Creutzig
    • , Peter Agoston
    • , Jan Christoph Goldschmidt
    • , Gunnar Luderer
    • , Gregory Nemet
    •  & Robert C. Pietzcker
  • Article |

    To improve the efficiency of photovoltaic devices while keeping the same spatial footprint, solar cells can be stacked on top of each other. Here, Essig et al. fabricate very efficient dual-junction and triple-junction solar cells by placing one or two III–V solar cells on top of a silicon solar cell.

    • Stephanie Essig
    • , Christophe Allebé
    • , Timothy Remo
    • , John F. Geisz
    • , Myles A. Steiner
    • , Kelsey Horowitz
    • , Loris Barraud
    • , J. Scott Ward
    • , Manuel Schnabel
    • , Antoine Descoeudres
    • , David L. Young
    • , Michael Woodhouse
    • , Matthieu Despeisse
    • , Christophe Ballif
    •  & Adele Tamboli
  • Analysis |

    Clean energy sources bring environmental and health benefits by reducing traditional electricity sources. Millstein et al. analyse data from 2007–2015 on the expansion of solar and wind power in the US to explore impacts in terms of air pollution, avoided emissions and associated premature mortality.

    • Dev Millstein
    • , Ryan Wiser
    • , Mark Bolinger
    •  & Galen Barbose
  • Article |

    Various strategies are developed to combine high efficiency and stability in perovskite solar cells. Here, Wang et al. mix 2D and 3D mixed-cation and mixed-halide perovskite phases in solar cells with stabilized efficiencies up to 19.5% and improved stability under full illumination and ambient air.

    • Zhiping Wang
    • , Qianqian Lin
    • , Francis P. Chmiel
    • , Nobuya Sakai
    • , Laura M. Herz
    •  & Henry J. Snaith
  • Article |

    Electricity storage will benefit from both R&D and deployment policy. This study shows that a dedicated programme of R&D spending in emerging technologies should be developed in parallel to improve safety and reduce overall costs, and in order to maximize the general benefit for the system.

    • Noah Kittner
    • , Felix Lill
    •  & Daniel M. Kammen
  • Article |

    Metal dichalcogenides are promising electrocatalysts for hydrogen evolution, but more active and stable materials are desired. Here the authors demonstrate that H-TaS2 and H-NbS2 possess high basal-plane activity that increases with cycling through changes in the morphology of the catalysts.

    • Yuanyue Liu
    • , Jingjie Wu
    • , Ken P. Hackenberg
    • , Jing Zhang
    • , Y. Morris Wang
    • , Yingchao Yang
    • , Kunttal Keyshar
    • , Jing Gu
    • , Tadashi Ogitsu
    • , Robert Vajtai
    • , Jun Lou
    • , Pulickel M. Ajayan
    • , Brandon C. Wood
    •  & Boris I. Yakobson
  • Article |

    The Li–O2 cell performance is largely limited by the insulating and insoluble nature of Li2O2. Here the authors report that dual mediators decouple the electrochemical reactions at the cathode from the formation and decomposition of Li2O2 from solutions, helping stabilize the carbon cathode.

    • Xiangwen Gao
    • , Yuhui Chen
    • , Lee R. Johnson
    • , Zarko P. Jovanov
    •  & Peter G. Bruce
  • Article |

    Li dendrite formation is a major obstacle in the development of Li metal batteries. Nazar and colleagues present a protection method for the Li metal by an in situ synthesis of Li-based surface alloy composites, and demonstrate promising battery applications.

    • Xiao Liang
    • , Quan Pang
    • , Ivan R. Kochetkov
    • , Marina Safont Sempere
    • , He Huang
    • , Xiaoqi Sun
    •  & Linda F. Nazar
  • Article |

    As renewable energy technology deployment continues apace, it is increasingly important to consider the optimal spatial allocation of power plants. Towards this end, Drechsler et al. employ a variety of methods to understand the most efficient and equitable distribution of solar and wind plants across Germany.

    • Martin Drechsler
    • , Jonas Egerer
    • , Martin Lange
    • , Frank Masurowski
    • , Jürgen Meyerhoff
    •  & Malte Oehlmann
  • Review Article |

    Thermal effects on batteries, both due to external variations and internal fluctuations, significantly impact their performance. Ajayan and colleagues survey recent advances in understanding the thermal effects on individual battery components.

    • Marco-Tulio F. Rodrigues
    • , Ganguli Babu
    • , Hemtej Gullapalli
    • , Kaushik Kalaga
    • , Farheen N. Sayed
    • , Keiko Kato
    • , Jarin Joyner
    •  & Pulickel M. Ajayan
  • Article |

    Climate change affects the availability of water for cooling thermoelectric power plants, causing curtailments in generation. This study models how future changes in water availability due to climate and water usage impacts power generation across the EU, and assesses different adaptation strategies.

    • Paul Behrens
    • , Michelle T. H. van Vliet
    • , Tijmen Nanninga
    • , Brid Walsh
    •  & João F. D. Rodrigues
  • Article |

    Planning of distributed energy resources requires careful consideration of many socio-technical factors to ensure that it is optimally built. Jain et al. present a model that incorporates numerous such factors and use it to find cost-effective resources for a sample of 10,000 consumers in California.

    • Rishee K. Jain
    • , Junjie Qin
    •  & Ram Rajagopal