Our group widely pursues transformative advances in energy storage, energy conversion, and robotics by designing organic and polymer materials, as well as exploring mechanisms underpinning functions. Our research is highly interdisciplinary and associated with knowledge and skills from polymer science, electrochemistry, materials science, and engineering. Current projects include polymer materials for batteries, organic electrochemical interface in energy storage, polymer-based robots and intelligent machines, polymer manufacturing for energy and robot applications.

Organic Interface for Electrochemical Energy Devices

In rechargeable batteries, the solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) is pivotal in stabilizing the anodes and electrolyte, as well as regulating the electrochemical processHowever, the SEI is constantly reforming with cyclingRational SEI design is plagued by the failure to control its structure and stability. Our group is designing organic/polymeric SEI at the molecular level for the next-generation batteries, and probing the battery interface using advanced characterization techniques.

fig 1 polymeric SEI
(a) Formation of an electrolyte-derived SEI via electrolyte decomposition. The SEI layer (purple) is constantly breaking and consuming electrolyte on cycling. (b) Design of a polymer-inorganic SEI using the RPC precursor rather than the electrolyte. The RPC layer first passivates the Li surface by a chemical reaction. The attached RPC subsequently generates polymeric salts and nanoparticles of Li salts on-site. GO nanosheets complete the SEI layer (green).
fig 1 cryoEM
(a and b) Nanostructure of a Li metal anode SEI formed at -15°C. A multilayered SEI with a LiF-rich inner phase was identified using cryo-TEM. (c and dSEM images of  Li metal deposition at -15°C. The organic molecules modified on the Cu substrate significantly altered the morphology of Li metal deposition.

Autonomous Robots and Intelligent Machines Based on Polymers 

Intelligent robots are still inadequately functionalized compared with animals and plants. The creation of autonomous robotics capable of making adaptions to dynamic environments and performing complex behaviors is highly important. We are using polymer materials to mimic the intelligent behavior of living organisms for robot applications.

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fig 2 vehicle
A Braitenberg vehicle capable of self-powering and autonomous pathfinding, which is realized by using a functional gel polymer.

Polymer Manufacturing for Energy and Robot Applications

Polymer-based materials are used as separators, binders, electrolyte, active materials in batteries, and actuators and sensors in robots. We are exploring the design, synthesis, and manufacturing of functional polymer materials for energy and robot applications. 

fig 3 manufacturing-1
3D printed, electrochemically active polymers enables stable rechargeable batteries.
fig 3 manufacturing-2
Material manufacturing for diverse battery applications.