2022 Longstaff Prize Winner
Professor Peter Bruce, University of Oxford
Awarded for pioneering research on the chemistry of materials with applications in renewable energy, leading to fundamental changes in our understanding of solid-state electrochemistry.
The main focus of Professor Bruce’s work is to develop a fundamental understanding of the properties of materials and the processes taking place in batteries and use this knowledge to improve performance.
The Li-ion battery has revolutionised the consumer electronics market, making devices smaller, lighter and more portable. Batteries are now playing a key role in the electrification of transport, with an increasing number of electric vehicles on the road, as we transition away from petrol and diesel engines. It is not just on the roads that batteries are being used in the battle against climate change, they are being added to the electricity grid to support the adoption of renewable sources.
Professor Bruce’s research is concerned with new materials and chemistries that have the potential to deliver a step-change in performance, for example increasing the range of an electric vehicle.
In the solid-state battery, the flammable electrolyte is replaced by a solid which presents the possibility of using a lithium metal anode. Doing so increases the energy of the battery (i.e. driving range) but also improves safety (fire risk). However, there are issues with cell failure that must be addressed. His group’s recent work has revealed the fundamental mechanisms at the interfaces between the solid electrodes and the solid electrolyte: solid-solid interfaces are particularly challenging to understand and control in electrochemical devices. They are now using this knowledge to devise strategies to overcome the processes that lead to failure in solid state batteries.
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