Research Initiation Awards provide support for junior and mid-career faculty at Historically Black Colleges and Universities who are building new research programs or redirecting and rebuilding existing research programs. It is expected that the award helps to further the faculty member's research capability and effectiveness, improve research and teaching at the home institution, and involves undergraduate students in research experiences. The award to North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University has potential to broaden impacts in several areas. The proposed study will develop one-pot synthetic methods that will have an impact in electrochemical energy storage. The research will result in the development of new tools and fabrication of new materials. Undergraduate students will received training in research, design, development and manufacturing of new materials for energy storage.
The goal of the project is to synthesize porous hollow NiO/carbon nanocomposites for electrode materials. A bottom up sol-gel approach will be adopted in which the laboratory synthesized block copolymer and low molecular weight surfactant will be used as template and structure directing agent. The main challenge in sol-gel synthesis is the interaction of inorganic sources with polymer template. The polymeric template will be designed in such a way that it can arrest inorganic/organic source strongly. Fine-tuning of shape, size, porosity, and crystallinity of nanoporous materials will be readily achieved by changing either the template?s molecular weight or its solution properties. This research will provide a greater understanding of combination of soft and hard chemistry to design hierarchical nanoporous hollow NiO/carbon nanocomposites. The nanoporous materials will be explored as an electrode material for supercapacitors. The hollow nanospheres with an interior nickel oxide layer and an exterior carbon layer will protect each of these components from electrochemical dissolution and show improved supercapacitive performance. The project will make a significant contribution to fundamental understanding of the relationships among morphologies, pore structures, and surface atomic structures of electrode materials to enhance the electrochemical properties of energy storage devices.
This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.