News Release

What is a conductive Nernst Equation, and how will it transform technology? - A 133-year electrochemical conundrum has been solved by SUTD researchers

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Singapore University of Technology and Design

Figure 1

image: Schematic diagram of a double room electrochemical cell view more 

Credit: SUTD

The Nernst Equation is crucial in the evolution of electrochemical devices like batteries; however, it only applies when there is no current flow. There is presently no theory that can quantitatively predict the critical superconducting transition temperature of an electrode-electrolyte interface. This difficulty could be solved with a conductive Nernst Equation, which would transform technology powered by superconducting and complex conducting batteries and gadgets. It can be used to compute charge transport as a function of electrode or electrolyte concentrations, redox potentials, and temperature in a quantitative manner, which will aid in the prediction of novel physics and the transformation of technology.

A team of researchers from the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) developed first principles-based charge transport equations for electrode-electrolyte current modeling to advance the understanding of the electrode-electrolyte transport process and address the zero-current problem. This could lead to new insights and discoveries in electrode-electrolyte interface science, and the creation of high-performance electrolytes for energy, biomedical, and environmental applications, as well as forecasting the interfacial superconducting transition.

The team constructed an equation of electron conductivity and electron entropy of electrode to account for the additional overpotential and resistive loss owing to current flow, inspired by the success of their prior studies on entropic electrowetting, magneto-wetting, and thermodynamic entropy. Meanwhile, by bridging the electron electrochemical potentials of electrode and electrolyte, this equation accounts for the change in electrolyte chemistry at the electrode-electrolyte interfaces due to current flow.

Principal investigator, SUTD Associate Professor Wu Ping, remarked: “The actual power of electrochemistry was unleashed with this conductive Nernst Equation, which quantified the charge transport of electronic devices as a function of the introduced mechanical, electrical, magnetic, and chemical loadings. This conductive Nernst Equation, for example, is being used to design and control the degradation rates of human implants, as well as to investigate superconducting batteries for quick charge and discharge performance, and to explore the influence of global warming on marine organism colonies.”

The team anticipates that the conductive Nernst Equation will provide the path for exciting insights and discoveries in interface science, while offering exciting possibilities in electrochemistry, environmental chemistry, and biochemistry.

This research was published in Electrochemica acta and is co-authored by SUTD PhD student Hasanthi L. Senevirathna.

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