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Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Academics & Research

Engineering alumnus’ battery research makes journal cover

In June 2016, ChemNanoMat featured work on lithium-ion battery alternatives by UH alum Yifie Li, under the guidance assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering Yan Yao. | Valeria Dominguez/The Cougar

Yifie Li, an alum of the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering, was previously featured on the June 2016 cover of ChemNanoMat for his innovative battery research.

Focused on finding a cheaper and more efficient alternative to lithium-ion batteries, Li’s award-winning findings are documented in his article.

“Two-dimensional materials have become one of the hottest topics in physics, chemistry and material science during the past decade owing to their promising applications,” states the article’s introduction.

Li’s successful exploration of battery alternatives during his time at the engineering college is garnering noise from international audiences. Li’s work was recently awarded a Best Materials Dissertation Program Award.

This distinction is awarded to one student each semester who earns their doctorate in the year they submit a dissertation.  The recipient is awarded an honorarium of $1,000.

We needed to break down the material into single layers in order to approach its theoretical limit,” said Li, according to a news release. “By exfoliating the two dimensional material, the material delivers higher capacitance per volume due to enhanced electric conductivity.”

The research Li conducted was geared for his doctoral dissertation. Yan Yao, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, worked alongside Li and served as the adviser throughout the process.

“In his dissertation, Yifei was able to pull together past research to design better materials for battery systems,” Yao said. “Because of this, we now have the ability to modify and tailor the design to the system we are trying to create.”

Li authored 13 publications over the past four years and was the first doctoral candidate to graduate from Yao’s group.

“I have seen him transform from a student to a scholar,” said Yao.

In his dissertation, “Developing Beyond Lithium Ion Batteries for Electrical Energy Storage,” Li offers several alternatives to the lithium-ion battery. These alternatives include sodium ion batteries and magnesium ion batteries, among others. Each alternative is meant to offer a cheaper and safer substitute to the existing battery.

Conducting award-winning research for his doctoral dissertation has enabled Li to stand out as a former engineering student during his time at UH. By creating innovative research to create alternatives for an existing lithium-ion battery, Li said he hopes to show the importance of the science he studies.

“I hope that I can represent the students of our department by showing the importance of materials science and that we can make great contributions to the scientific field,” said Li.

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