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Mauro Pasta

Professor Mauro Pasta
Associate Professor of Materials
Fellow of St Edmund Hall

Department of Materials
University of Oxford
16 Parks Road
Oxford OX1 3PH
UK

Tel: +44 1865 273777 (reception)
Fax: +44 1865 273789 (general fax)

Energy Storage and Conversion Group

Summary of Interests

My research interests lie in electrochemical energy storage and conversion, with an emphasis on:

1) Energy storage: Li and Na-ion batteries, grid-scale energy storage.

2) Energy conversion: power from salinity gradients (blue energy), seawater desalination and delithiation.

3) Electrocatalysis: organic molecules electroxidation, ORR and HER reactions, carbon dioxide sequestration and electroreduction.

Current Research Projects

Next generation of solid-state lithium batteries electrolytes
Dr. M. Pasta
Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the portable electronics industry because of their high energy density and efficiency. They may also prove valuable for a variety of other applications, including electrification of the transport system and grid-scale stationary energy storage. However, they still suffer from several significant safety and reliability issues, many of which are related to the use of electrolytes dissolved in organic solvent. Solid-state electrolytes could resolve all of these problems. However, most candidate materials have much lower ionic conductivity compared to that of liquid electrolytes, which reduces the power density of the cell and limits their practical applications.  Prussian Blue analogues have recently demonstrated remarkable electrochemical performance that is enabled by rapid movement of ions through their open-framework crystal structure.  The overarching goal of this project is to identify PBAs materials that function as a stable, high-power solid electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries. PBA materials have many tunable properties that affect their electronic and structural characteristics. In this project, the student will explore the effect of these parameters on the structural, electronic and electrochemical properties of PBA. Collaborations (both internal, external) are expected

Batteries for grid-scale energy storage
Dr. M. Pasta
New types of energy storage are needed in conjunction with the deployment of solar, wind, and other volatile renewable energy sources and their integration with the electrical grid. No existing energy storage technology can provide the power, cycle life, and energy efficiency needed to respond to the costly short-term transients that arise from renewables and other aspects of grid operation. We are currently working on a new family of insertion electrodes based on the Prussian Blue open-framework crystal structure. This structure is fundamentally different from other insertion electrode materials because of its large channels and interstices. It is composed of a face-centered cubic framework of transition metal cations where each cation is octahedrally coordinated to hexacyanometallate groups and has wide channels between the A sites, allowing rapid insertion and removal of sodium, potassium and other ions. In addition, there is little lattice strain during cycling because the A sites are larger than the ions that are inserted and removed from them. The result is an extremely stable electrode: over 40,000 deep discharge cycles were demonstrated in the case of the copper hexacyanoferrate cathode.  The student will work on synthesizing new open-framework materials, perform an in-depth structural characterization at the Diamond Light Source and evaluate their electrochemical properties. Collaborations (both internal, external and with Silicon Valley based start-up) are expected.

Energy extraction from water salinity differences
Dr. M. Pasta
The large-scale chemical energy stored as the salinity difference between seawater and fresh water is a renewable source that can be harvested. The entropic energy created by the difference in water salinities (also called “blue energy”) is normally dissipated when river water flows into the sea. This reduction in free energy due to mixing is estimated at 2.2 kJ per liter of fresh water.  We have previously developed a device called a “mixing entropy battery” that efficiently extracts this wasted energy. The device employed sodium manganese oxide and silver as sodium and chloride capturing electrodes respectively. While this device worked well, there are some limitations. Sodium manganese oxide has a limited specific capacity (i.e. number of sodium ions storable per gram of active material), while the silver-silver chloride electrode is much too expensive for this application. Moreover, both manganese and silver are heavy metals and their release in seawater is severely regulated. In addition, by operating the mixing entropy battery in reverse we demonstrated the possibility of efficiently desalinating seawater through a device I called a “desalination battery”. The development of the two devices will progress in parallel. The student will work on new electrode materials as well as improving the design of the device and will be part of an international network working on developing this technology. 

3 public active projects

Research Publications

Google Scholar: https://scholar.google.co.uk/citations?user=H0f4GhwAAAAJ&hl=en  

32. Li, Sha; Wang, Shanshan; Salamone, Matteo; Robertson, Alex; Nayak, Simantini; Kim, Heeyeon; Tsang, Shik Chi Edman; Pasta, Mauro and Warner, Jamie, Edge enriched 2D MoS2 thin films grown by chemical vapor deposition for enhanced catalytic performance, ACS Catalysis, (2017), 7, 877–886.

31. Sun, Jie; Sun, Yongming; Pasta, Mauro; Zhou, Guangmin; Li, Yuzhang; Liu, Wei; Xiong, Feng; Cui, Yi, Entrapment of Polysulfides by a Black-Phosphorus-Modified Separator for Lithium-Sulfur Batteries, Advanced Materials, (2016), 1–7.

30. Sun, Jie; Lee, Hyun-Wook; Pasta, Mauro; Sun, Yongming; Liu, Wei; Li, Yanbin; Yuan, Lee, Hye Ryoung; Liu, Nian; Cui, Yi, Carbothermic reduction synthesis of red phosphorus-filled 3D carbon material as a high-capacity anode for sodium ion batteries, Energy Storage Materials, (2016), 4, 130-136.

29. Pasta, Mauro*; Wang; Richard Y*; Ruffo, Riccardo; Lee, Hyun-Wook; Quiao, Ruimin; Wray Andrew L; Shyam, Badri; Guo, Minghua; Wang, Yayu; Toney, Michael F., Yang, Wanly; Cui, Yi, Manganese-Cobalt Hexacyanoferrate Cathodes for Sodium-ion Batteries, Journal of Materials Chemistry A (2016), 4, 4211-4223.

28. Sun, Jie; Lee, Hyun-Wook; Pasta, Mauro; Yuan, Hongtao; Zheng, Guangyuan; Sun, Yongming; Li, Yuzhang; Cui, Yi, A phosphorene–graphene hybrid material as a high-capacity anode for sodium-ion batteries, Nature Nanotechnology, (2015), 10, 980–985. 

27. Wang, Richard Y; Shaym, Badri; Stone, Kevin, H; Weker, Johanna N; Pasta, Mauro; Lee, Hyun Wook; Toney Michael, F; Cui, Yi, Reversible Multivalent (Monovalent, Divalent, Trivalent) Ion Insertion in Open Framework Materials, Advanced Energy Materials, (2015).

26. Lee, Hyun-Wook*; Wang, Richard Y*; Pasta, Mauro*;  Lee, Seok Woo; Liu, Nian; Cui, Yi, Manganese hexacyanomanganate open framework as a high-capacity positive electrode material for sodium-ion batteries, Nature Communications, (2014), 5, 5280.

25. Lee, Hyun-Wook; Pasta, Mauro; Wang, Richard Y; Ruffo, Riccardo; Cui, Yi, FD176: Effect of the alkali insertion ion on the electrochemical properties of nickel hexacyanoferrate Electrodes, Faraday Discussions, (2014), DOI: 10.1039/C4FD00147H.

24. Ye, Meng; Pasta, Mauro; Xie, Xing; Cui, Yi; Criddle, Craig, Performance of a mixing entropy battery alternately flushed with wastewater effluent and seawater for recovery of salinity-gradient energy, Energy & Environmental Science, (2014), 7, 2295-2300.

23. Pasta, Mauro; Wessells, Colin D; Liu, Nian; Nelson, Johanna; McDowell, Matthew T.; Huggins, Robert A.; Toney, Michael F.; Cui, Yi, Full open-framework batteries for stationary energy storage, Nature Communications, (2014), 5, 3007.

22. Liu, Nian; Li, Weiyang; Pasta, Mauro; Cui, Yi, Nanomaterials for electrochemical energy storage, Frontiers of Physics. Invited review article, June 2014, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 323-350.

21. Kong, Desheng; Wang, Haotian; Cha, Judy; Pasta, Mauro, Koski, Kristie; Yao, Jie; Cui, Yi, Synthesis of MoS2 and MoSe2 films with vertically aligned layers. Nano Letters, (2013), 13 (3), 1341–1347. 

20. Pasta, Mauro; Wessells, Colin D; Huggins, Robert A; Cui, Yi, A high rate, long cycle life aqueous electrolyte battery for grid scale energy storage, Nature Communications (2012) 3, 1149. 

19. Pasta, Mauro; Battistel, Alberto, La Mantia, Fabio; Batteries for efficient lithium extraction from brines, Energy & Environmental Science (2012), 5, 9487. 

18. Pasta, Mauro; Wessells, Colin D; Cui, Yi; La Mantia, Fabio, A desalination battery, Nano Letters (2012), 12(2), 839-843. 

17. Yao, Yan; Liu, Nian; McDowell, Matthew T; Pasta, Mauro; Cui, Yi, Improving the cycling stability of silicon nanowire anodes with conducting polymer coatings, Energy and Environmental Science (2012), 5, 7927-7930. 

16. Pasta, Mauro; Battistel, Alberto, La Mantia, Fabio, Lead-lead fluoride reference electrode, Electrochemistry Communications (2012), 20, 145-148. 

15. Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Hu Liangbing, Cui, Yi, Electrodeposited gold nanoparticles on carbon nanotube-textile: anode material for glucose alkaline fuel cells, Electrochemistry Communications (2012), 19, 81-84. 

14. Wessells, Colin D; McDowell Mattew T; Peddada, Sandeep V; Pasta, Mauro; Huggins Robert A, Cui, Yi, Tunable reaction potentials in open framework nanoparticle battery electrodes for grid-scale energy storage, ACS Nano (2012), 6(2), 1688-1694. 

13. Hu, Liangbing; Wu, Hui; La Mantia, Fabio; Xie, Xing; McDonough, James; Pasta, Mauro; Cui, Yi, Lithium-ion textile batteries with large areal mass loading, Advanced Energy Materials (2011), 1 (6), 1012-1017. 

12. Hu, Liangbing; Chen, Wei; Xie, Xing; Liu, Nian; Yang, Yuan; Wu, Hui; Yao, Yan; Pasta, Mauro; Alshareef, Husam N.; Cui, Yi. Symmetrical MnO2–carbon nanotube–textile nanostructures for wearable pseudocapacitors with high mass loading. ACS Nano (2011), 5, 8904. 

11. La Mantia, Fabio* and Pasta, Mauro*, Deshazer, Heather D, Logan, Bruce E, Cui, Yi. Batteries for efficient energy extraction from a water salinity difference. Nano Letters (2011), 11 (4), 1810-1813. 

10. Xie, Xing; Pasta, Mauro; Hu, Liangbing; Yang, Yuan; McDonough, James; Cha, Judy; Criddle, Craig S.; Cui, Yi. Nano-structured textiles as high-performance aqueous cathodes for microbial fuel cells. Energy and Environmental Science (2011), 4 (4), 1293-1297. 

9. Xie, Xing; Hu, Liangbing; Pasta, Mauro; Wells, George F.; Kong, Desheng; Criddle, Craig S.; Cui, Yi. Three-dimensional carbon nanotube-textile anode for high-performance microbial fuel cells, Nano Letters (2011), 11, 291-296. 

8. Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Ruffo, Riccardo; Peri, F.; Pina, C. Della; Mari, C. M. Optimizing operating conditions and electrochemical characterization of glucose-gluconate alkaline fuel cells. Journal of Power Sources (2011), 196(3), 1273-1278. 

7. Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Cui, Yi. A new approach to glucose sensing at gold electrodes. Electrochemistry Communications (2010), 12(10), 1407-1410. 

6. Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Cui, Yi. Mechanism of glucose electrochemical oxidation on gold surface, Electrochimica Acta (2010), 5, 5561-5568. 

5. Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Hu, Liangbing; Deshazer, Heather Dawn; Cui, Yi. Aqueous supercapacitors on conductive cotton, Nano Research, (2010), 3, 452-458. 

4. Hu, Liangbing; Pasta, Mauro; La Mantia, Fabio; Cui, Lifeng; Jeong, Sangmoo.; Deshazer, Heather Dawn; Choi, Jang Wook.; Han, S. M.; Cui, Y., Stretchable, porous, and conductive energy textiles. Nano Letters (2010), 10 (2), 708-14. 

3. Pasta, Mauro; Ruffo, Riccardo; Falletta, Ermelinda; Mari, Claudio Maria; Della Pina, Cristina. Alkaline glucose oxidation on nanostructured gold electrodes. Gold Bulletin (2010), 43 (1), 57-64. 

2. C. Della Pina, Cristina; E. Falletta, Ermelinda; M. Lo Faro, Massimiliano; Pasta, Mauro; Rossi, Michele. Gold-catalyzed synthesis of polypyrrole. Gold Bulletin, (2009), 42, (1), 27-33. 

1. Chen, Zhi; Della Pina, Cristina; Falletta, Ermelinda; Lo Faro, Massimiliano; Pasta, Mauro; Rossi, Michele; Santo, Nadia. Facile synthesis of polyaniline using gold catalysts. Journal of Catalysis, (2008), 259(1), 1-4.

*= equal contribution

Projects Available

Anode-less Li-metal batteries
M. Pasta

Metallic lithium is the holy grail of negative electrodes due to its highest theoretical capacity (3860 mAh/g) and most negative electrochemical potential (−3.04 V). Compared to commercial lithium-ion batteries, the utilization of metallic lithium shows great potential to meet the energy density requirements of future portable electronics and electric vehicles. However, directly using metallic lithium has considerable scientific and engineering challenges. The most fundamental scientific challenge is the lithium dendrite nucleation and growth; the scientific community is very active in developing the indispensable fundamental understanding in both liquid and, especially, solid electrolytes. From an engineering point of view, manufacture air and moisture sensitive, tens of micrometers thick Li-metal foil will inevitably increase the cost of manufacturing. Assembling cells in their discharge state, where lithium is stored in the cathode as a lithium-ion and the anode is simply made of a metal current collector foil, would improve processability, allow operation in dry-room, in principle, plate amore uniform and free from impurities.

In this project, the student will investigate the electroplating of lithium metal from both liquid organic, ionic liquids and solid electrolytes. The effect of the lithium morphology and plating efficiency will be investigated as a function of the current collector material, temperature and pressure. Advanced electrochemical characterization, NMR, XPS and electron microscopy, both in-situ and ex-situ, are some of the techniques that the student will be trained on during the PhD studies.

Also see homepages: Mauro Pasta

Magnesium anodes in ionic liquid electrolytes
Prof M. Pasta

Magnesium metal is an ideal rechargeable battery anode material because of its high volumetric energy density which is almost double that of lithium metal (3833 vs. 2277mAh cm-3), high negative reduction potential (-2.7V vs SHE), high melting point (650°C) and natural abundance (sixth most abundant element in Earth’s crust). Compared to lithium, magnesium tends to grow smooth surfaces due to lower diffusion barriers and, as an hcp metal, it favors higher-coordinated configurations (in contrast to the bcc lithium). These characteristics hinder the dendrite nucleation process, in which unrestrained growth results in dreadful short circuit, fire, or explosion, and is therefore one of the most severe limitations to the commercial deployment of Li-metal batteries. Unfortunately, the low solubility of magnesium salts in non-aqueous solvents and the passivation of the magnesium surface by oxidized species (i.e. MgO, Mg(OH)2 and MgCO3) limits the electrolyte choice. Ionic liquids (ILs) represent a very exciting new class of room temperature fluids. The main advantages of ILs towards organic solvents are its non-flammability, negligible vapor pressure, high chemical and thermal stability. Therefore, ILs have been recently investigated as electrolytes for electrochemical devices including rechargeable lithium batteries due to their high ionic conductivity and electrochemical stability. Bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (FSI) ILs, show particular promise as they exhibit low viscosity, high chemical stability, and form robust solid−electrolyte interphase.

In this project, the student will investigate trifluoromethanesulfonylimide (FSI) based ionic liquids as electrolytes in magnesium-metal batteries: from their physico-chemical properties (i.e. viscosity, thermal stability), to their bulk electrochemistry (i.e. conductivity, diffusion coefficient, transference number), to the surface chemistry of the magnesium metal||IL interface with the aim of understanding the role of improving its cycle life and rate capability. Advanced electrochemical characterization, NMR, XPS and electron microscopy, both in-situ and ex-situ, are some of the techniques that the student will be trained on during the PhD studies.

Also see homepages: Mauro Pasta

Next generation of solid-state lithium batteries electrolytes
Prof M. Pasta

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have revolutionized the portable electronics industry because of their high energy density and efficiency. They may also prove valuable for a variety of other applications, including electrification of the transport system and grid-scale stationary energy storage. However, they still suffer from several significant safety and reliability issues, many of which are related to the use of electrolytes dissolved in organic solvent. Solid-state electrolytes could resolve all of these problems. However, most candidate materials have much lower ionic conductivity compared to that of liquid electrolytes, which reduces the power density of the cell and limits their practical applications. 

Prussian Blue analogues have recently demonstrated remarkable electrochemical performance that is enabled by rapid movement of ions through their open-framework crystal structure. 

The overarching goal of this project is to identify PBAs materials that function as a stable, high-power solid electrolyte for lithium-ion batteries. PBA materials have many tunable properties that affect their electronic and structural characteristics. In this project, the student will explore the effect of these parameters on the structural, electronic and electrochemical properties of PBA. Collaborations (both internal, external) are expected.

 

Also see homepages: Mauro Pasta

Batteries for grid-scale energy storage
Prof M. Pasta

New types of energy storage are needed in conjunction with the deployment of solar, wind, and other volatile renewable energy sources and their integration with the electrical grid. No existing energy storage technology can provide the power, cycle life, and energy efficiency needed to respond to the costly short-term transients that arise from renewables and other aspects of grid operation. We are currently working on a new family of insertion electrodes based on the Prussian Blue open-framework crystal structure. This structure is fundamentally different from other insertion electrode materials because of its large channels and interstices. It is composed of a face-centered cubic framework of transition metal cations where each cation is octahedrally coordinated to hexacyanometallate groups and has wide channels between the A sites, allowing rapid insertion and removal of sodium, potassium and other ions. In addition, there is little lattice strain during cycling because the A sites are larger than the ions that are inserted and removed from them. The result is an extremely stable electrode: over 40,000 deep discharge cycles were demonstrated in the case of the copper hexacyanoferrate cathode. 

The student will work on synthesizing new open-framework materials, perform an in-depth structural characterization at the Diamond Light Source and evaluate their electrochemical properties. Collaborations (both internal, external and with Silicon Valley based start-up) are expected.

Also see homepages: Mauro Pasta

Also see a full listing of New projects available within the Department of Materials.