Clean energy

A major component of research at the nanomaterials centre investigates new nanomaterials for clean energy generation, storage and applications.

The generation, storage and applications of the sustainable and clean energy is one of the most pressing problems facing our society today, in the light of climate change, rapid growth in developing countries and the dwindling sources of fossil fuels. Research projects that address some of these critically important issues have been part of the Centre's programs since the centre was established.

The major focus of our Centre’s research lies in the following three areas: 1) Energy storage, 2) Solar cell and 3) Photocatalysis.  Researchers from the “Energy storage” sector aim to develop nanomaterials for rechargeable batteries with high performance, long-term stability and low cost. Another important research direction is exploring the potential applications and commercial products, especially in integrated electronic devices. The solar cell team is mainly working on quantum dot solar cells and perovskite solar cells, which are among the most promising low-cost and solution-processable photovoltaic devices to convert solar energy directly into electricity. Photocatalysis researchers are exploring novel semiconducting nanomaterials to realize efficient solar hydrogen generation directly from water by various photocatalytic reactions or advanced photoelectrochemical water splitting systems.

In addition to continuous output of high impact publications, the research topics have attracted various industry and government engagement, including Printed Energy Pty. Ltd., BaoSteel Group and HBIS Group, etc. Our researchers endeavour to address the critical challenges in the clean energy areas by collaboratively working with both academic and industry partners

Energy storage

Low-cost and printable thin-film batteries for self-powered electronic devices

Dr Miaoqiang Lyo   (2019-2022)

 

New high energy density cathode materials for lithium ion batteries

Prof. Lianzhou Wang and Dr Han Hu  (2018-2021)

This project aims to develop high energy density and low cost Li-rich cathode materials (LRCMs) for advanced Li-ion batteries (LIBs) that can store solar energy for Australian households and power the next generation electric vehicles (EVs). The key aspects are to design novel and efficient strategies to suppress the voltage decay and capacity decline of LRCMs over long-term cycling as well as understand the underlying mechanism behind them. The project will also develop the overall synthesis procedure for the cost-effective production of LRCMs and optimize their full-cell performance. The successful of this project will be of fundament importance to create clean energy economy and facilitate the electric vehicle industry.

 

High performance electrode materials for next generation rechargeable batteries

Prof. Lianzhou Wang (2018-2020)

 

Designing solar rechargeable batteries for efficient solar energy storage

Dr Bin Luo (2018-2021)

This project aims to develop a new prototype of solar rechargeable battery for the direct storage of abundant but intermittent solar energy. Specifically, the research will integrate newly designed solar-driven photoelectrochemical energy conversion process and bifunctional photoelectrodes into a lithium-sulphur battery to achieve high energy storage efficiency. Expected outcomes include high-performance solar rechargeable batteries and new knowledge generated from the integration of interdisciplinary research in energy storage, photoelectrochemistry and nanotechnology. Further advances in material science and solar energy storage technologies will assist in addressing the global energy shortage and mitigating environmental pollution.

 

New hierarchical electrode design for high-power lithium ion batteries (ARC Discovery Project administered by Griffith University)

Dr Bin Luo (2018-2021)

Effective energy storage system plays an important role in the development of renewable energies and electric vehicles. This project aims to develop new types of hierarchical electrodes for high-rate lithium ion batteries with long cycling life. The key concepts are the development of multi-shelled hollow structured silicon-based anode and Li-rich layered oxides cathode to achieve both high power and energy density, and the adoption of graphene to further improve rate capability and cycling stability. The outcomes will lead to innovative technologies in low carbon emission transportation and efficient energy storage systems.

 

Advanced Printing Technology for New Generation Flexible Batteries

Prof. Lianzhou Wang and Prof. Chris Grieg (2017-2020)

 

Designing compressible hybrid supercapacitors from graphene aerogels

Dr Han Hu   (2017-2020)

Compressible hybrid supercapacitors are promising energy storage devices for elastic and wearable electronics under large strain and deformation. However, the controlled fabrication of such devices remains a great challenge. This project aims to design and synthesize compressible hybrid supercapacitors using graphene aerogels as substrates through novel structural design and surface modification. High-performance compressible energy storage devices are expected to be developed. The success of the project will not only benefit the booming graphite industry of Australia but also promote the Australia's competitiveness in new wearable electronics markets.

 

Designed construction of high-performance lithium ion capacitors

Dr Han Hu  (2018)

This project aims to develop lithium ion capacitors with drastically improved energy density, power capability, and cyclability, making them a powerful candidate for advanced energy storage applications. The key aspects are to reduce the capacity and kinetics gap between the two electrodes as well as manipulate their open circuit potential for fully utilizing the voltage window of the electrolyte. This project will accelerate the deployment of renewable sources in Australia.

 

A new solar rechargeable lithium sulfur battery system

Dr Bin Luo  (2017-2018)

 

Design of New Two-dimensional Materials for Lithium Sulfur Batteries

Dr Bin Luo (2016-2019)

Effective energy storage system plays an important role in the installation of renewable energies and electric vehicles. This project aims to develop new types of hierarchical cathode composites for high capacity lithium-sulfur battery with long cycling life. The key concepts are to confine high amount of active sulfur in porous framework of conductive graphene and exfoliated TiO2 nanosheets to improve the energy density, and to use a unique hybrid protecting layer to suppress the cycling stability problem. The relationship between synthetic conditions, structure, and electrochemical performance will be established. The outcomes will lead to innovative technologies in low carbon emission transportation and efficient energy storage systems.

Solar Cell

Designing new perovskite quantum dots for efficient solar energy conversion

Dr Yang Bai  (2019–2021)  

This project aims to rationally design new perovskite quantum dots featuring prominent phase and thermal stability in humid air and remarkable optoelectronic properties, which will be crucial for the development of next-generation flexible, lightweight solar energy conversion devices. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the fundamental mechanism understanding of functional materials for more efficient solar energy conversion. Expected outcomes include new advanced materials and commercially compelling technology for sustainable and decentralized energy utilization. The success of this project will position Australia at the frontier of clean energy, flexible optoelectronics and related research areas.

 

Designing new transparent conductive electrodes for flexible perovskite solar cells

Dr Tengfei Qiu  (2018–2021)  

This project aims to develop a new class of low-cost flexible perovskite solar cells based on the proposed ITO-free transparent conductive film. Specifically, the research will design a new generation of transparent conductive electrodes by integrating electrochemically exfoliated graphene with metal nanowires and introducing graphene oxide based hole-transporting layer into the perovskite device to achieve high energy conversion efficiency and mechanical stability. Expected outcomes include high-performance flexible solar cells and new knowledge generated from the investigation of charge transfer in the new system, which will lead to further innovative technologies in efficient energy conversion systems and flexible optoelectronics.

 

Perovskite photovoltaic-assisted energy conversion system using wastewater

Dr Jung Ho Yun  (2018–2020)  

The aim of this project is to explore the potential of solar-driven electrochemical system to simultaneously generate hydrogen and electricity by utilising wastewater as a fuel. The key concept of this system is integrating high efficiency perovskite solar cells as a high voltage supplier with the electrochemical system to accelerate hydrogen evolution reaction for solar-to-hydrogen conversion and oxygen reduction reaction for solar-to-electricity conversion during oxidisation of organic fuels in wastewater. The success of this project will open up an independent and transportable power grid-free electrochemical system to address energy and water utilisation issues, especially for the remote and indigenous area in Australia.

 

Development of Efficient and Stable Solution-processed Thin Film Solar Cells

 Dr Yang Bai (2017–2020)   

 

Perovskite Materials: exploring new properties beyond solar cells

Prof. Lianzhou Wang and Dr Jung Ho Yun  (2017–2019)  

This project aims to explore new functionalities of metal halide perovskite materials for sustainable solar energy conversion and storage, beyond the heavily studied perovskite solar cell application. The key concept is to design new types of toxic Lead free/less perovskite materials for use in an integrated photoelectrochemical hydrogen production and solar rechargeable battery system. Systemic study on the relations between material synthesis conditions, device structure, and performance of the new photoelectrochemical system will be conducted. Expected outcomes are low cost and more efficient solar-to-hydrogen conversion and solar energy storage devices, which are important for sustainable utilisation of intermittent solar energy.

 

Photocatalysis

A New Photoelectrochemical System for Solar Hydrogen and Electricity

Prof. Lianzhou Wang and Dr Yang Bai (2019–2022)  

This project aims to develop a new integrated photoelectrochemical (PEC) system for converting solar energy into hydrogen and electricity simultaneously. The key concept is to design innovative advanced materials which will be integrated into PEC devices with capacitor function for both solar fuel production and electricity storage. This project expects to generate new knowledge in the fundamental mechanism understanding of functional materials for more efficient solar energy conversion and storage. Expected outcomes include next generation advanced materials and technologies for sustainable energy utilisation. The successful completion of this project will position Australia at the frontier of the related research areas.

 

A New Photocatalytic System for Solar-to-Chemical Energy Conversion

Prof. Lianzhou Wang   (2016–2018) 

Functional materials hold the key for efficient solar energy conversion. Built upon our prior research success in advanced materials and photocatalysis, this project aims to develop a new class of bi-functional photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems for application in both waste brine treatment and valuable chemical generation. The key concept lies in the innovative design of layered semiconductors as efficient and stable photocatalysts and their integration into PEC reaction systems for simultaneous solar hydrogen and valuable chemicals (e.g. bromine) generation from brine. The program will advance fundamental understanding of the photocatalytic water splitting concept to other 'waste product' splitting for valuable solar fuel generation.

 

A new integrated photo-electrochemical device fabrication & testing system

Prof. Lianzhou Wang Dr. Jung Ho Yun, Prof. Peter Halley and Dr. Bin Luo  (2015–2016) 

This proposal aims to establish an integrated fabrication and measuring system to fundamentally understand the photo-electrochemical reaction mechanisms of advanced materials in clean energy conversion and storage devices. The system combines a host of facilities to form a unique Queensland based research platform which underpin the development of many important industry sector including new generation solar cells, sensors, and rechargeable batteries. The expected outcomes will lead to groundbreaking research in a variety of energy and environment related fields, including photo-electrochemical water purification, solar fuel generation, low cost solar cells, opto-electronics, and new energy storage devices.