Dr. Rachel Davidson
Intelligence Communities Fellow
Office of the Director of National Intelligence
Texas A&M University – College Station
Electroactive Light Metal Nanostructures and Composites: A Roadmap to Atom-Precise Functional Architectures
For rechargeable batteries, there is great interest in moving beyond lithium-ion towards magnesium-based electrochemical energy systems, driven in large measure by the alleged imperviousness of magnesium to dendrite formation. Mitigating dendrite formation would allow for the use of metal anodes affording much higher capacities than graphite, but this would require plating and stripping processes at the anode to occur consistently over the course of hundreds of cycles. We have explored the electrocrystallization mechanism of magnesium through in situ video microscopy coupled with detailed structural characterization and mesoscale modeling. The studies reveal a diverse range of dendritic, aggregated, and even single-crystal products. We have further designed metallic magnesium nanowire and nanotube architectures that have the potential for yielding low-volume-expansion metal anodes. Our work opens the door for development of anode designs that mitigate dendrite growth, which will be essential for continued progression of Mg-based battery technology.
I will additionally discuss our efforts in the design of magnesium-nanoparticle- and exfoliated-graphite-based nanocomposites that activate sacrificial cathodic protection and path tortuosity mechanisms, respectively. I will conclude by discussing a “frugal innovation” approach to the design of ZnO-based Janus membranes for applications in menstrual health care products.
Rachel Davidson is currently an Intelligence Community Postdoctoral Fellow supported by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. She completed undergraduate studies at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and earned her PhD in Chemistry from Texas A&M University under the advisement of Prof. Sarbajit Banerjee. During her PhD, she was a National Science Foundation Research Traineeship (NRT) Fellow. Her work has focused on understanding electrodeposition of light metals, design of nanocomposite coatings, and on design of frameworks that can accelerate the exploration of synthetic spaces using machine learning.