Understanding and Controlling Materials’ Properties for Energy Research
Functional materials are the key to new and optimized systems in a variety of applications in energy conversion and storage as well as energy-efficient information technologies. In order to achieve societal impact, energy research has to address the following steps along the value chain: from governing principles for novel functionalities over tailoring materials and processes for energy-relevant devices to developing industry-relevant materials, processes, and prototypes.
The discovery of governing principles for novel functionalities is the fundamental, knowledge-based approach to energy materials. Dedicated synchrotron radiation infrastructures and experimental stations allow the investigation of interfaces of multi-layered systems of inorganic materials and hybrids of inorganic/organic materials, for example. Understanding and controlling novel quantum phenomena are essential to developing and deploying energy-saving functionalities of materials relevant to future IT.
For tailoring materials and processes for energy-relevant devices, it is crucial to understand the chemical and electronic properties of materials. The next step is then to apply this knowledge to gain control over materials with optimized functionality and their synthesis, for example in the fields of catalysis and solar fuel generation. Dedicated infrastructures for energy materials research provide unique possibilities to tailor energy materials by using synchrotron radiation.
Industry-relevant materials, processes, and prototypes often follow from knowledge-based approaches and tailor-made materials. Here, the challenge consists in merging well-established generic knowledge and process capabilities with the unique capabilities of synchrotron radiation sources to move into upscaling and transfer of processes and devices.
Examples for the relevance of synchrotron radiation in all three steps will be given, focussing on new materials for energy applications.