Special Issue "Soft and Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion"

A special issue of Materials (ISSN 1996-1944).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 March 2020.

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Patrizia Bocchetta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Universita del Salento, Lecce, Italy
Interests: electrochemistry; electrochemical energy conversion and sensors; anodic alumina film and membranes; chitosan membranes; conducting polymers; functional and composite materials; fuel cell; zn air battery; electrodeposition; nanomaterials; oxygen reduction electrocatalysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This Special Issue on “Soft and Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion” will address advances in both experimental and theoretical aspects of the synthesis, processing, fabrication, characterization, properties of soft nanomaterials for possible application in energy conversion.

Soft nanostructured materials are a particular category of flexible bulk matter that shows rich dynamics and self-assembly behavior [1]. Many examples of soft materials can be found in polymers, liquid crystals, gels, self-assemblies, membranes, thin films, composites, biomaterials etc.

In recent decades, several novel methods to synthesize nanostructured materials such as nanoparticles, quantum dots, nanotubes, nanofilms, and nanowires have been developed following the capability of nanostructuring to introduce in the matter novel functionalities due to the unique combination of the structure and the mode of bonding (i.e., superplasticity of carbon nanotubes, energy harvesting of nanowires). The connections between soft materials and nanostructuring result in amazing possibilities for scientific research and future applications of these materials.

Some examples can be found in carbon nanotubes and 2D soft nanomaterials, including graphene, 2D polymers, covalent organic frameworks, and 2D supramolecular organic nanostructures, with an easy structural control and flexibility that are particularly advantageous for energy storage and conversion [2]. Another successful example can be found in polymer composites with nanowire, nanotube architecture, and graphene for application in flexible electronics and batteries.

This Focus Issue collects papers from research groups with diverse backgrounds in soft materials and nanomaterials to discuss all aspects of such research. Both original research and comprehensive review papers are solicited on all types of soft nanomaterials with possible or experimented application in energy conversion.

Prof. Dr. Patrizia Bocchetta
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Materials is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Nanomaterials
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • Graphene
  • Batteries
  • Electrocatalysis
  • Soft materials
  • Polymers
  • Composites
  • Soft energy conversion

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Platinum Atoms and Nanoparticles Embedded Porous Carbons for Hydrogen Evolution Reaction
Materials 2020, 13(7), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13071513 (registering DOI) - 26 Mar 2020
Abstract
Due to the growing demand for energy and imminent environmental issues, hydrogen energy has attracted widespread attention as an alternative to traditional fossil energy. Platinum (Pt) catalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is a promising technology to produce hydrogen because the consumed electricity can [...] Read more.
Due to the growing demand for energy and imminent environmental issues, hydrogen energy has attracted widespread attention as an alternative to traditional fossil energy. Platinum (Pt) catalytic hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) is a promising technology to produce hydrogen because the consumed electricity can be generated from renewable energy. To overcome the high cost of Pt, one effective strategy is decreasing the Pt nanoparticle (NP) size from submicron to nano-scale or even down to single atom level for efficient interacting water molecules. Herein, atomically dispersed Pt and ultra-fine Pt NPs embedded porous carbons were prepared through the pyrolysis of Pt porphyrin-based conjugated microporous polymer. As-prepared electrocatalyst exhibit high HER activity with overpotential of down to 31 mV at 10 mA cm−2, and mass activity of up to 1.3 A mgPt–1 at overpotential of 100 mV, which is double of commercial Pt/C (0.66 A mgPt–1). Such promising performance can be ascribed to the synergistic effect of the atomically dispersed Pt and ultra-fine Pt NPs. This work provides a new strategy to prepare porous carbons with both atomically dispersed metal active sites and corresponding metal NPs for various electrocatalysis, such as oxygen reduction reaction, carbon dioxide reduction, etc. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft and Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle
Fuel Cell Electrode Characterization Using Neutron Scattering
Materials 2020, 13(6), 1474; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13061474 - 24 Mar 2020
Abstract
Electrochemical energy conversion and storage is key for the use of regenerative energies at large scale. A thorough understanding of the individual components, such as the ion conducting membrane and the electrode layers, can be obtained with scattering techniques on atomic to molecular [...] Read more.
Electrochemical energy conversion and storage is key for the use of regenerative energies at large scale. A thorough understanding of the individual components, such as the ion conducting membrane and the electrode layers, can be obtained with scattering techniques on atomic to molecular length scales. The largely heterogeneous electrode layers of High-Temperature Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells are studied in this work with small- and wide-angle neutron scattering at the same time with the iMATERIA diffractometer at the spallation neutron source at J-PARC, opening a view on structural properties on atomic to mesoscopic length scales. Recent results on the proton mobility from the same samples measured with backscattering spectroscopy are put into relation with the structural findings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft and Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion)
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Open AccessArticle
Flexible and Electroactive Ionogel Graphene Composite Actuator
by Chao Lu and Xi Chen
Materials 2020, 13(3), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/ma13030656 - 01 Feb 2020
Abstract
Electrochemical actuators have attracted tremendous attention worldwide because of their critical significance to artificial intelligence. The development of electrochemical actuators—with the merits of low driven-voltage, lightweight, flexibility and large deformation—is an urgent task in the development of smart technologies. Nanomaterials with special structures [...] Read more.
Electrochemical actuators have attracted tremendous attention worldwide because of their critical significance to artificial intelligence. The development of electrochemical actuators—with the merits of low driven-voltage, lightweight, flexibility and large deformation—is an urgent task in the development of smart technologies. Nanomaterials with special structures and superior properties provide the opportunity for the development and application of smart actuators. Here, we report an electrochemical actuator based on an ionogel graphene composite, which is assembled with simple casting methodology and can be driven with a low voltage of 2.5 V. The flexible sandwich-structured actuator operates under a capacitive mechanism based on asymmetrical volume expansion of active ions under electrical stimulus. It shows a high specific capacitance of 39 F g−1 at current density of 1 A g−1 under potential of 2.5 V. The specific capacitance is calculated on the weight of graphene. The device presents a large actuation peak-to-peak displacement of 24 mm at a frequency of 0.1 Hz under the stimulus potential of 2.5 V, and it can still reach a large value of 12 mm at a high frequency of 1 Hz. The free length of the device is 25 mm. Notably, the device exhibits excellent air-working stability at frequency of 1 Hz under 2.5 V with the actuation displacement retention of 98%, even after 10,000 cycles. This study presents insights into the design of smart actuators based on nanomaterials, and will accelerate the development of artificial intelligence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soft and Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion)
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