Degradation of Electroactive Materials
Materials stability is critically important to long-life operation of electrochemical devices. Thin films, nanoparticles, and bulk materials all have unique challenges for their durability. Materials chemistry and structure play a key role in their stability, both chemical and electrochemical. Our group has focused on understanding the limits of temporal stability for electrochemically active materials. This thrust moves across our other projects from electrocatalysts to batteries to fuels synthesis. We have investigated the stability of metals, oxides, carbides, nitrides and carbon based materials in several electrolytes that span ionic strength and temperature. Some of our recent work has focused on elucidating degradation mechanisms for catalyst supports, like Pt/WC and Pt/WOx(see below).
Materials corrosion is not always bad. Electrochemical corrosion offers a highly controllable method for precise manufacturing of complicated machined geometries. Not only are geometries possible that are not possible through traditional C&C machining, electrochemical machining (ECM) offers a single-step method to produce them. Control over the machining rate through the current, along with the single step manufacturing, gives ECM the potential to produce machined parts at a fraction of the current cost. Also, ECM does not produce stress in the material through temperature and shear, which can improve part durability over time.
Our interest in ECM lies in understanding how operating parameters like temperature, current and electrolyte composition impact the machining efficiency, part reproducibility, and cathode (machining tool) life. We also have interest in the near-surface structure and composition of the machined part, and quantifying the differences that arise compared to bulk.
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