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Hope on the horizon: Electrochemical Energy

MIT faculty and researchers offer their thoughts on potentially life-altering
technologies that lie just around the corner.

Paula Hammond

Bayer Professor of Chemical Engineering

Long-standing efforts to manipulate materials on the nanometer scale are coming to fruition in some areas. One of those areas is electrochemical energy--devices such as solar cells, capacitors and supercapacitors, fuel cells and batteries. Electrochemical energy involves the reduction and oxidation of materials to either generate energy or to store it.

A number of the challenges in achieving high storage capacity and being able to generate power in a highly efficient manner involves manipulating the interfaces between organic and inorganic material systems and facilitating the pathways of charge in devices. In recent years, there has really been an explosion in the number of methods and the level of control over which we can do that. This could mean we're on the cusp of very real achievement in this area--leading to new, more-efficient photovoltaic devices, batteries and fuel cells.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 21, 2008 (download PDF).

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