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TcSUH In The News

Researchers Report New Understanding of Thermoelectric Materials

June 21, 2019
Researchers Report New Understanding of Thermoelectric Materials
Dr. Zhifeng Ren and postdocs

The promise of thermoelectric materials as a source of clean energy has driven the search for materials that can efficiently produce substantial amounts of power from waste heat. Researchers reported a major step forward Friday, publishing in Science Advances the discovery of a new explanation for asymmetrical thermoelectric performance, the phenomenon that occurs when a material that is highly efficient in a form which carries a positive charge is far less efficient in the form which carries a negative charge, or vice versa. Zhifeng Ren, M. D. Anderson Chair Professor of Physics at the University of Houston, director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH and corresponding author on the paper, said they have developed a model to explain the previously unaddressed disparity in performance between the two types of formulations. They then applied the model to predict promising new materials to generate power using waste heat from power plants and other sources.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Engineer’s Battery Research Gets New Charge With Additional DOE Funding

May 22, 2019
UH Engineer’s Battery Research Gets New Charge With Additional DOE Funding
Yan Yao

Yan Yao’s “Battery500” Award Selected for Phase II. A quest for better batteries has led the U.S. Department of Energy to invest an additional $800,000 in Yan Yao’s research project titled “High-Energy Solid-State Lithium Batteries with Organic Cathode Materials.” Yao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, was one of 15 principal investigators whose seedling projects – focused on cutting-edge battery research – were funded through the DOE’s Battery500 Consortium. Each seedling awardee received $400,000 in 2017. After an 18-month initial phase, the 10 most promising projects were selected to move into the second round of research time – another two years – and received additional funding. This brings the total funding for the project to $1.2 million.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Engineering Doctoral Student Publishes In Nano Energy

May 15, 2019
UH Engineering Doctoral Student Publishes In Nano Energy
Jie Chen

Wearable electronics – from smartwatches to fitness trackers – are not just trendy and fashionable accessories, but an integral part of many people’s lives. People use these devices to log the number of steps taken, monitor heart rates and sleep patterns, count calories and more. The demand for wearable devices has spurred advances, such as more compact designs and more complex activity tracking (broken down into different sports), which require more efficient power storage. Traditional batteries can’t meet customer’s expectations of smaller devices and longer run times between chargings. As a result, researchers are working to identify or create alternate power supplies. Jie Chen, a doctoral candidate in materials science and engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering, recently tackled the issue in an article published in the prestigious Nano Energy journal.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Students and Alumni Earn Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

April 30, 2019
UH Students and Alumni Earn Prestigious NSF Graduate Research Fellowships
Audrey Wang

Six current and former University of Houston students have earned highly coveted National Science Foundation (NSF) graduate research fellowships. The fellowships recognize outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) who are pursuing research-based masters and doctoral degrees at accredited U.S. institutions. Fellows benefit from a three-year annual stipend of $34,000 along with a $12,000 cost of education allowance for tuition and fees. Addendum: Audrey Wang, one of the six awardees, graduated in May with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering. Her research focused on using high performance computing to investigate structure-function relationships in solid-state electrolytes for applications in solid-state batteries. Wang declined the NSF award and joined the automation company ABB which operates in robotics, power, heavy electrical equipment and automation technology. Wang was an undergraduate student in the department of electrical and computer engineering whose advisor was Yan Yao. She won Third Prize in the recent 56th TcSUH Annual Student Research Symposium for her presentation on An Ab Initio Investigation of Structure-Function Relationships in Solid-State Electrolytes.

For more information, read the original news release.


Researchers Report High Performance Solid-State Sodium-Ion Battery

April 19, 2019
Researchers Report High Performance Solid-State Sodium-Ion Battery
Yan Yao

Solid-state sodium-ion batteries are far safer than conventional lithium-ion batteries, which pose a risk of fire and explosions, but their performance has been too weak to offset the safety advantages. Researchers Friday reported developing an organic cathode that dramatically improves both stability and energy density. Yan Yao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Houston and corresponding author of the paper, said the organic cathode – known as PTO, for pyrene-4,5,9,10-tetraone – offers unique advantages over previous inorganic cathodes. But he said the underlying principles are equally significant. “We found for the first time that the resistive interface that forms between the cathode and the electrolyte can be reversed,” Yao said. “That can contribute to stability and longer cycle life.” Yao also is a principal investigator at the Texas Center for Superconductivity at UH. His research group focuses on green and sustainable organic materials for energy generation and storage.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Researchers Forge Ahead With Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Solar Cell Device Development

March 14, 2019
UH Researchers Forge Ahead With Low-Cost, High-Efficiency Solar Cell Device Development
Venkat Selvamanickam, J.-H. Ryou

An article citing improvements in research involving a new generation of flexible photovoltaic devices reported by the Selva Research Group at the UH Cullen College of Engineering was recently published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science. The article is titled “Flexible GaAs Solar cells on roll-to-roll processed epitaxial Ge films on metal foils: a route towards low-cost and high-performance III-V photovoltaics.”

For more information, read the original news release.


NSF CAREER Awards: A Track Record of Success in the Chemistry Department

March 11, 2019
NSF CAREER Awards: A Track Record of Success in the Chemistry Department
Jerry Yang, Jakoah Brgoch

In the past three years, within the Department of Chemistry in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, junior faculty have demonstrated a track record of success in receiving the highly prestigious National Science Foundation’s CAREER Award. NSF CAREER Awards, which offer five years of funding, are granted to faculty members at the assistant professor level who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through “outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research.” Since 2017, five faculty members in the chemistry department have received a CAREER Award. This number of awards is a testament both to their excellence in research as well as the culture of support within the department. “When it comes to award nominations and applications, our department has been extremely supportive,” said Jakoah Brgoch, an assistant professor of chemistry and NSF CAREER Award recipient. “They not only write strong letters of support, but they also help identify awards and make connections that are essential to winning the awards and advancing our careers.” Awarded faculty members include Jerry Yang, Judy Wu, Loi Do, Jakoah Brgoch and Thomas Teets.

For more information, read the original news release.


UH Research Breakthrough Lands Journal Cover

February 06, 2019
UH Research Breakthrough Lands Journal Cover
Jae-Huyn Ryou, Sara Pouladi, Monika Rathy, Venkat Selvamanickam

The journal Progress in Photovoltaics: Research and Applications featured an article on the collaborative work of two UH Cullen College of Engineering research groups on its cover in January. The article, titled “High efficiency flexible III/V photovoltaic solar cells based on single crystal-like thin films directly grown on metallic tapes,” is about the design and development of highly-efficient, low-cost flexible solar cell devices that can adapt to different environments and uses. “The overarching goal of the research is to develop flexible and low-cost, yet high-efficiency photovoltaic device – something that generates electricity by exposing material to light – using high-quality solar cell materials on inexpensive metal tape through a continuous deposition process,” said Jae-Hyun Ryou, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

For more information, read the original news release.