Women in Nanoscience


Women in Nano Blog

Weiyang Li (Dartmouth) develops new magnetically controlled batteries for efficient energy storage

Posted on March 13, 2016 at 9:55 AM

There is a relentless demand for efficient, cost-effective and preferably large-scale energy storage systems for power grids especially as we gear up to harness intermittent renewable energy resources like the sun and wind. Current storage techniques include flow batteries which are attractive for their scalability and design flexibility. These batteries store fluids containing active materials in external reservoirs and pump them through a power stack to provide electricity. Unfortunately, these batteries operate at low voltages and have low energy densities. These factors make them too expensive to operate at large scales.

(Weiyang Li on a relaxed wine tasting trip to Sonoma County, California in Feb 2014).

To tackle these challenges, Prof. Weiyang Li, a new assistant professor at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, along with her post-doc co-workers at Stanford, recently developed a novel battery using magnetic field-amplified lithium polysulfide materials (Li-PS). Unlike conventional methods, they used a unique biphasic solution of lithium polysulfide conventional methods, they used a unique biphasic solution of lithium polysulfide (Li2S8) and and magnetic nanoparticles (NPs) that completely eliminates the need for a pump. Thanks to the super-magnetic nature of the nanoparticles, the whole polysulfide phase acts as a ferro-liquid whose flow can be completely controlled by the magnetic field. Read more here.

(Weiyang Li hiking with her husband, Sheng Liu, in Antelope Canyon, Arizona in May 2015).

Weiyang (Fiona) Li has had an interestingly diverse education: She was educated as a chemist at Nankai University, China. Her Ph.D. was in biomedical engineering from the Washington University at St. Louis, with post-doc training in materials science at Stanford University. She joined the Dartmouth fauculty this January. Her research in energy materials focus on functional nanomaterials design and synthesis, storage and conversion design, battery technologies and fuel cells.

- Written by Nakita Sengar, edited by Paulette Clancy

(Photo credit: Provided by and used with permission from Prof. Weiyang Li.)

Categories: WINnews

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