Transdisciplinary Areas of ExcellenceSmart Energy


The following three projects have been awarded funds provided by the Binghamton University Road Map through the Provost's Office and the Division of Research with the goal of encouraging faculty to develop collaborative projects that stimulate the advancement of new ideas that can build Binghamton University's expertise toward a national center designation in the area of the smart energy. This competitive, peer-reviewed program is providing initial support for proposed long-term programs of collaborative research that have strong potential to attract external funding.

  • Development of Ultrahigh Capacity Lithium-Ion Battery Anode Materials

The continued improvement of Li-ion battery storage capacity is dependent on development of new battery materials. Nanometer-sized Si, as an anode material, can tolerate mechanical stresses and possesses over 10 times higher capacity than that of graphite/carbon. However, its poor electrical contact with the current collector has hindered its usage. This project addresses this issue by proposing a new layered graphene oxide-Si hierarchical nanostructure to resolve the conductivity obstacle, when the large volume change issue is being overcome. In this design, high-quality Si nanocrystals are intercalated in between highly conductive graphene oxide layers, driven by strong electrostatic interactions. The large volumetric changes of Si that take place during battery cycling will also be accommodated by the layered structure.

This layered anode material will be fabricated and understood by close collaboration of three research groups on the campus with complementary research expertise. Dr. Fang will lead the synthesis of high-quality layered materials and their electrochemical evaluation. Drs. Piper and Zhou will explore the electronic and geometric structure as a function of Li intercalation, respectively.  This work will provide the necessary preliminary results to aggressively seek external grants.

Principal investigators/departments: Jiye Fang, associate professor of chemistry; Louis Piper, assistant professor of physics; and Guangwen Zhou, associate professor of mechanical engineering

  • Laser-Sintered Nanoparticle-Printed Flexible Energy Storage Devices

The goal of this project is to establish a new research program in designing and fabricating flexible energy storage devices such as rechargeable lithium-ion and lithium-air batteries which will feature high-energy capacity, low-cost, lightweight and conformal bendability as power sources for portable electronics, medical devices and electric vehicles. The specific objective of this Smart Energy Interdisciplinary Collaboration effort is to demonstrate the feasibility of a printable and flexible substrate for the creation of electrodes, electronics and functionalities using a combination of roll-to-roll manufacturing, nano printing and laser sintering techniques. Both fundamental and technical issues will be addressed in terms of the viability for flexible assembly of high-capacity and long-durability batteries. This interdisciplinary effort couples the expertise of Dr. Zhong in electrochemical energy storage and flexible nanodevices and the expertise of Dr. Shim in pulsed laser techniques and spectroscopy in the direction of establishing an advanced energy storage research program consistent with the Smart Energy Road Map at Binghamton University. 

Principal investigators/departments: Chuan-Jian Zhong, professor of chemistry, and Bonggu Shim, assistant professor of physics

  • Tuning Exciton Dynamics in Organic Nanowire-Based Solar Cells

Organic molecule-based solar cells are poised to become an inexpensive clean energy source with the added advantages of mechanical flexibility and light weight. The best performing organic solar cells rely on a nanostructured morphology consisting of interpenetrating electron donating and electron accepting domains. At present, this nanomorphology is poorly controlled, leading to a limited understanding about the relationships between nanoscale structure and optoelectronic function.

We aim to improve photocurrent generation in molecule-based solar cells by employing active layers comprised of organic nanowires. The large surface-to-volume ratio and continuous charge transport pathway presented by the nanowires are expected to be beneficial for charge photo-generation and transport, leading to increased solar cell efficiencies; moreover, having well-defined nanomorphologies, organic nanowires are suitable as model systems for probing exciton dynamics that play an essential role in solar cell operation. Through a combination of ultrafast optical spectroscopies and nanometer-scale electrical mapping, we will probe the influence of nanowire size on the separation of excitons into free charge carriers. Elucidation of the interplay between exciton dynamics and nanowire dimensions represents a key step in demonstrating the promise of nanowire-based organic solar cells.

Principal investigators/departments: Jeffrey Mativetsky, assistant professor of physics; Joon Jang, assistant professor of physics; and Alistair Lees, professor of chemistry


Last Updated: 12/20/13