Energy produced from renewable sources has increased exponentially over the past decade and now meets a significant fraction of the world’s energy demands. Most of this renewable energy is produced as electricity, and thus, increasing reliance on renewables has necessitated the development of new battery and electrocatalytic materials to store and make productive use of this electrical energy. The advanced materials needed to perform these functions are a major research focus, with chemists and materials scientists constantly striving to produce more effective and more efficient materials.
One common tool used to study these systems is x-ray spectroscopy, which can provide an atomic-level picture of the materials under operating conditions. The information provided by x-ray spectroscopy can be used both to understand how these systems function and can also aid in identifying ways to improve their operation.
In order to be studied by x-ray spectroscopy, the material of interest must be accessible to x-rays, and that is the focus of this summer project: to design an electrochemical sample cell that can be used to conduct in situ x-ray spectroscopic measurements. By building on existing sample cell designs, this project will result in a design for an improved sample environment that requires a minimum amount of electrode material and in which simultaneous x-ray spectroscopy—both transmission and fluorescence measurements—and electrochemistry can be performed. This project is ideal for students with an interest in equipment design and/or chemistry and materials science.