Xiangbo “Henry” Meng’s research focuses on synthesis of new inorganic, organic and hybrid nanomaterials in precisely controllable modes at the atomic and molecular level, and development of high-performance energy-storage battery systems.
In January of 2023, he received a $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to reconstruct a clean, anti-oxidative surface of high-capacity nickel manganese cobalt cathode for the batteries, which are used in battery-powered electric vehicles. Nickel manganese cobalt is cost effective, but also challenging for commercialization due to residual lithium compounds on the surface, structural instability, metal dissolution, microcracking and oxygen release.
“The high nickel content makes nickel manganese cobalt particularly vulnerable to performance degradation and safety risk in applications. To address these issues, surface modification remains an important safety strategy and has proven effective. We are the first to discover that sulfides as surface coatings can play some unique roles in addressing nickel manganese cobalt issues. Our work will hopefully deliver technical solutions while advancing our understanding of electrochemistry,” Meng said.
For this project, Meng will collaborate with researchers from Argonne National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory, who will use electron microscopies and synchrotron-based techniques to investigate the underlying mechanisms of sulfide coatings on nickel manganese cobalt. Meng’s team conducts innovative research with the mission of providing feasible solutions to scientific and technical challenges facing our society.
In 2022, Meng co-founded Interf LLC, a startup company aiming to commercialize new battery systems and technologies, such as lithium metal batteries, sodium metal batteries and all-solid-state batteries. These emerging battery technologies enable higher energy density, better safety, lower cost and longer lifetime than that of state-of-the-art lithium ion batteries.
Meng is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the U of A. Before joining the U of A in 2016, Meng was a research fellow in the energy systems division at Argonne National Laboratory from 2012 – 2016 and a research associate in the Chemistry Department at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Meng’s research interests lie in smartly designing novel nanostructured materials for various applications such as energy, catalysis, semiconductors, surface engineering and biomedical.