Engineering

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  • (2021) Chua, Stephanie
    Thesis
    Improvements in liquid lithium-ion battery electrolytes using of metal organic frameworks (MOFs) as a functional decoration on polymer membrane separators were investigated using a combination of experimental and theoretical methods. Zirconium-based MOF UiO-66 was introduced to the polymer support using the mixed matrix membrane (MMM) method. The method allowed the one-step manufacture of a robust, mechanically pliable polymer-MOF membrane composite of high MOF loading. MOF-MMMs imparted improved electrochemical behaviours such as a widened potential operating window, near-unity transference number, and increased presence of solid electrolyte interphase (SEI) components crucial to battery performance. Density functional theory (DFT) calculations were also performed to provide insights regarding electrolyte solvation in the presence of MOF. A simple dip-coating technique was utilised to modify the surface of the MOF-MMMs with polydopamine (PDA) for further improvement of the electrochemical properties. Increased transference numbers, as well as stability during rate cycling, were observed with the resulting PDA-MMM owing to the improved electrode/electrolyte interface. However, surface analyses using x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) showed that there are reduced amounts vital SEI components compared to the original MOF-MMM support. The last section further explores the versatility of UiO-66 and tackled the preparation of gel polymer electrolytes (GPEs) decorated with UiO-66 via phase inversion technique. Using the phase inversion method, the fabricated GPE contained pores from both polymer substrate and the intrinsic pores of the 3D nanomaterial for improvement of electrochemical properties. It was demonstrated in this work that the MOF GPE is equally inert and suitable in ether or carbonate-based electrolytes. Overall, this study demonstrated the versatility of UiO-66 metal organic frameworks for use as a functional nanofiller for electrolyte membranes. With the use of inexpensive membrane fabrication methods, the composites obtained are viable for lithium-metal battery applications. Similarly, insights drawn can provide a springboard towards future study of MOF-based electrolytes.

  • (2022) Wang, Shuangyue
    Thesis
    Two-dimensional transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) nanocrystals (NCs) exhibit unique optical and electrocatalytic properties. However, the growth of uniform and high-quality NCs of monolayer TMD remains a challenge. Until now, most of them are synthesized via solution-based hydrothermal process or ultrasonic exfoliation method, in which the capping ligands introduced from organic solution often quench the optical and electrocatalytic properties of TMD NCs. Moreover, it is difficult to homogeneously disperse the solution-based TMD NCs on a substrate for device fabrication since the dispersed NCs can easily aggregate. Here, we put forward a novel CVD method to grow closely-spaced TMD NCs and explored the growth mechanism and attempts on the size control. Their applications acting as electrocatalysts and adhesion layer for Au film deposition have been also well displayed. Through the whole chapters of this thesis, the following aspects are highlighted: 1. MoS2 and other TMD nanocrystals have been grown on the c-plane sapphire. The surface oxygen vacancies determine the density of TMD nanocrystals. The MoS2 nanocrystals demonstrate excellent hydrogen evolution reaction and surface-enhanced Raman scattering performance owing to the abundant edges. 2. Deep insights into the growth of MoS2 nanograins have been explored. The surface step edges and lattice structures of the underlying sapphire substrates have a significant influence on the growth behaviors. The step edges could modulate the aggregation of MoS2 nanograins to form unidirectional triangular islands. The Raman spectra of MoS2 demonstrate a linear relationship with the crystal size of MoS2. 3. The orientation of sapphire substrate has an of importance effect on the critical size of MoS2 nanocrystals. The MoS2 nanocrystals have the smallest size on the r-plane sapphire, besides, the MoS2 on r-plane sapphire demonstrates the sintering-resistance feature, which is attributed to the edge-pinning effect when MoS2 edges are anchored on the sapphire surface. 4. The MoS2 nanocrystalline layer was utilized as the adhesion layer for Au film depositing on a sapphire substrate. The Au films on MoS2 displayed superior transmittance and electrical conductivity as well as outstanding thermal stability, which lay in the strong binding of Au film with MoS2 nanocrystalline layer.