Welcome to the Boron for Energy Storage and Transfer (BEST) Lab!
Hydrogen has been hailed as one of the best energy storage media to level out the energy output from intermittent energy resources such as wind and solar. It can release energy while emitting only water when used in a fuel cell or a combustion engine. The low volumetric density of hydrogen, however, dictates effective means of transport and storage. Our focus is on the design and synthesis of new compounds that contain B, N, H, or C, with a particular interest in liquid-phase hydrogen carriers. We aim to find find a compound that can effectively ’absorb’ and ’desorb’ hydrogen under mild conditions for many cycles. New discoveries are being made with new molecules showing exotic properties and applications even beyond hydrogen storage.
2. Boron-containing 2D materials
Hexagonal boron nitride is isostructural to graphite, with –B–N– forming six-membered rings joined together into honeycomb layers which are held together by van der Waals forces. Few-atomic-layered boron nitride (commonly known as boron nitride nanosheet, i.e., BNNS) possesses many interesting properties and has been studied for diverse applications in nanoscale electronic devices, atomically-thin coatings, and heat management. 2D films containing B, N, C, O with controllable atomic positions would yield desirable band gaps, which allow for interesting applications in catalysis and electronic devices. This lab is developing the control over the atomic position via molecular design and synthesis.
The role of electrolytes in electrolytic cells, capacitors, fuel cells, or batteries is to serve as the medium for the transfer of charges, which are in the form of ions, between the cathode and anode. A good electrolyte should possess characteristics such as good electrochemical stability, good ionic
conductivity, and environmental friendliness and non-toxicity. Boron tends to form large-cluster anions such as B12H12(2-), the charge on which is distributed over a number of elements. As a result, the interactions between metal ions and the anions are weakened, and ionic conductivity is very high. These large cluster compounds normally have very high chemical stability and are very stable in air.