Qing Zhao has worked on the construction of safe and stable interfaces for high-energy metal secondary batteries and has made a series of advancements in the design of electron/ion conduction at the anode surface/interface, interface optimization of solid-state electrolytes, and the development of novel cathode materials for metal secondary batteries.
He has improved the electron/ion conduction process at the anode surface/interface by synthesizing organic-inorganic composite interfaces on metal surfaces, designing epitaxial growth interfaces, and optimizing the solid-state electrolyte interface to achieve uniform and reversible depositions of a wide range of metal anodes (lithium, sodium, aluminum, zinc, etc.). The results suggest new ideas on how to construct interfaces with fast ion conduction, high chemical/electrochemical stability, and high mechanical strength. Based on this, several types of metal secondary batteries with high energy density, long cycle life, safety, and stability can be constructed.
Through constructing new interfaces on metal anode surfaces, the kinetics of metal plating/stripping have been significantly improved. Based on this finding, Zhao achieved the uniform deposition of metal Li anode, largely improving the cycle life of metal Zn anode, and reporting for the first time a rechargeable metal-aluminum battery with aluminum metal as the anode, which can be cycled stably in an aqueous solution system.
He also significantly reduced the interfacial impedance between the polymer electrolyte and the electrode by means of in situ triggered polymerization in the cell. Based on the first generation of electrolytes in this study, he has developed second to fourth generations of in situ polymer electrolytes, solved the problem of easy degradation and crystallization of polymer electrolytes, and discovered a polymer-like glassy transition process in liquid electrolytes.
In the next step, Zhao hopes to have a dynamic and comprehensive understanding of the electrode interface through the combination of multiple tools and to eventually create a guiding interface design manual to promote a unified consensus on interface design among research scholars in various fields. At the same time, in terms of applications, it will enrich the battery options for future energy storage, provide design ideas for large-scale as well as high-energy-density energy storage systems to be utilized, and facilitate the transition from lithium-ion to metal batteries.
Qing Zhao received his Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Nankai University in 2017, followed by postdoctoral research at Cornell University, and is currently back in China full-time with Nankai University.