Materials Science and Engineering Colloquium
Date: February 06, 2015 from 11:00 am to 12:00 pm EST
Location: Columbia University
Morningside Campus
S.W. Mudd, Room 214
Contact: For further information regarding this event, please contact APAM Department by sending email to or by calling 212-854-4457.
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 Electrochemical Materials and Devices
for Energy Storage and Conversion

Dr. Yuan Yang

Department of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology



A sustainable future demands advanced materials for energy storage and conversion. The ability to understand, design and characterize materials affords great opportunities for controlling underlying physical and chemical processes, which can ultimately lead to high performance energy devices.

This talk will cover several examples on designing electrochemical materials and devices for both energy storage and conversion. The first example is designing high-performance sulfur electrode for energy storage. Two approaches have been demonstrated: In one approach, closed nanostructures efficiently trap soluble polysulfides and minimize electrode pulverization, leading to both long cycle life and high capacity.  In the other approach, solubility of lithium polysulfides inspires us to develop a new type of hybrid flow battery for grid-level energy storage. The second example is designing transparent batteries for transparent electronics. Crossbar-structured electrodes with microscale features are realized by microfabrication to render the device transparent.

In another direction, although batteries are known for electricity storage, we demonstrate that by cycling a battery between low and high temperatures, thermal energy can be converted into electricity.  Prussian blue analogs are identified as potential materials as their small overpotential results in a high efficiency in heat harvesting. A charging-free, purely heat-powered battery is also demonstrated experimentally.

One of key steps in designing electrochemical materials is to control ions. The directions of future research are to understand and manipulate ions and their interaction with other particles to create novel materials and devices, such as advanced batteries and exotic thermal materials. Interface of ionic control and data science will be explored too.


Dr. Yuan Yang received his B.S. in physics at Peking University in 2007 and Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Stanford University in 2012. At Stanford he worked under supervision of Prof. Yi Cui. Dr. Yang is currently a postdoctoral researcher in Prof. Gang Chen's group in the department of mechanical engineering at MIT. His research interests include electrochemical materials and devices, thermal energy harvesting and thermal management. He received Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Self-financed Students Abroad (2012), Cubicciotti Award with honor mention of the Electrochemical Society (2010), O. Cutler Shepard Award of Stanford University (2010). His publication record can be found online at

Host: Irving Herman