Nav: Home

Greater than the sum of its parts

September 18, 2018

When it comes to designing and optimizing mechanical systems, scientists understand the physical laws surrounding them well enough to create computer models that can predict their properties and behavior. However, scientists who are working to design better electrochemical systems, such as batteries or supercapacitors, don't yet have a comprehensive model of the driving forces that govern complex electrochemical behavior.

After eight years of research on the behavior of these materials and their properties, scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the University of Colorado-Boulder have developed a conceptual model that combines existing theories to form a more general theory of electrochemistry that predicts previously unexplained behavior.

The new model, called the Unified Electrochemical Band-Diagram Framework (UEB), merges basic electrochemical theory with theories used in different contexts, such as the study of photoelectrochemistry and semiconductor physics, to describe phenomena that occur in any electrode.

The research began with the study of alpha manganese oxide, a material that can rapidly charge and discharge, making it ideal for certain batteries. The scientists wanted to understand the mechanism behind the material's unique properties so that they could improve upon it.

"There wasn't a satisfying answer to how the material was working," said Argonne scientist Matthias Young, "but after doing a lot of calculations on the system, we discovered that by combining theories, we could make sense of the mechanism."

Extensive testing of several other materials has helped the scientists develop the model and demonstrate its usefulness in predicting exceptional phenomena.

"The model describes how properties of a material and its environment interact with each other and lead to transformations and degradation," said Young. "It helps us predict what will happen to a material in a specific environment. Will it fall apart? Will it store charge?"

Computational models using UEB not only enable scientists to predict material behavior, but can also inform which changes to the material could improve its performance.

"There are models out there that make correct predictions, but they don't give you the tools to make the material better," said Young. "This model gives you the conceptual handles you can turn to figure out what to change to improve performance of the material."

Because the model is general and fundamental, it has the potential to aid scientists in the development of any electrode, including those used for batteries, catalysis, supercapacitors and even desalination.

"We are gaining something that is more than the sum of its parts," said Young. "We have taken a lot of brilliant work by many different people, and we unified it into something that yields information that was not there before."
-end-
A review of the research titled "The Unified Electrochemical Band Diagram Framework: Understanding the Driving Forces of Materials Electrochemistry" was published on August 21 in Advanced Functional Materials.

The research was funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Fuel Cell Technologies Office; the National Research Council; the Research Corporation for Scientific Advancement; the National Science Foundation; and National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) supports early-stage research and development of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies that make energy more affordable and strengthen the reliability, resilience, and security of the U.S. electric grid.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit the Office of Science website.

DOE/Argonne National Laboratory

Related Behavior Articles:

Religious devotion as predictor of behavior
'Religious Devotion and Extrinsic Religiosity Affect In-group Altruism and Out-group Hostility Oppositely in Rural Jamaica,' suggests that a sincere belief in God -- religious devotion -- is unrelated to feelings of prejudice.
Brain stimulation influences honest behavior
Researchers at the University of Zurich have identified the brain mechanism that governs decisions between honesty and self-interest.
Brain pattern flexibility and behavior
The scientists analyzed an extensive data set of brain region connectivity from the NIH-funded Human Connectome Project (HCP) which is mapping neural connections in the brain and makes its data publicly available.
Butterflies: Agonistic display or courtship behavior?
A study shows that contests of butterflies occur only as erroneous courtships between sexually active males that are unable to distinguish the sex of the other butterflies.
Sedentary behavior associated with diabetic retinopathy
In a study published online by JAMA Ophthalmology, Paul D.
Curiosity has the power to change behavior for the better
Curiosity could be an effective tool to entice people into making smarter and sometimes healthier decisions, according to research presented at the annual convention of the American Psychological Association.
Campgrounds alter jay behavior
Anyone who's gone camping has seen birds foraging for picnic crumbs, and according to new research in The Condor: Ornithological Applications, the availability of food in campgrounds significantly alters jays' behavior and may even change how they interact with other bird species.
A new tool for forecasting the behavior of the microbiome
A team of investigators from Brigham and Women's Hospital and the University of Massachusetts have developed a suite of computer algorithms that can accurately predict the behavior of the microbiome -- the vast collection of microbes living on and inside the human body.
Is risk-taking behavior contagious?
Why do we sometimes decide to take risks and other times choose to play it safe?
Neural connectivity dictates altruistic behavior
A new study suggests that the specific alignment of neural networks in the brain dictates whether a person's altruism was motivated by selfish or altruistic behavior.

Related Behavior Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...