As advanced energy systems with enhanced conversion efficiencies, improved storage capacities, and better reliabilities are being developed to meet the global energy needs of the world’s growing population, mechanics has emerged as one of the key factors that affect the performance of energy materials. In thermoelectric energy conversion to harvest sunlight and recover waste heats, thermal stress is a big concern for reliabilities, and the efficiency and reliability of photovoltaic materials is similarly affected by both strain and the presence of mechanical defects. In electric energy storage, the capacity and cyclic stability of lithium ion batteries are often limited by stress and strain induced during ion intercalation and extraction, despite much higher capacity promised by thermodynamics, and mechanical deformation has been found to be a key factor that directly impacts the functionality of capacitors including the so-called quantum nanocapacitance. The importance of mechanical properties of materials for renewable energies, such as wind and tide energies, is also widely recognized, and the very nature of vibration energy harvesting is mechanical. It is evident that mechanical issues are universal in all aspects of energy conversion, storage, and harvesting, and mechanics plays critical role in the performances of advanced energy materials and systems.
In the last a few years, we have witnessed rapid advances in modeling, simulations, and characterizations of mechanical behavior of advanced energy materials and systems. In lithium-ion batteries, transmission electron microscopy and electrochemical strain microscopy have enabled direct observation of lithium ion intercalation and extraction in-situ, with atomic resolution, and ab initio calculations and phase field simulations has offered key insights on kinetics and dynamics of phase transformation in lithium iron phosphate. In thermoelectrics, novel module design that mitigates thermal stress has been proposed, and nanostructured materials with advanced interface engineering and superior thermoelectric figure of merit have been developed. The importance of mechanics in all aspects of energy conversion, storage, and harvesting has become widely recognized, and tremendous opportunities arise for further understanding of mechanics in energy materials for superior performance.
This symposium is intended to bring together experts from materials sciences, mechanics, chemistry, and engineering communities interested in energy conversion, storage, and harvesting to review current state of art and formulate the outstanding research needs and grand challenges in mechanics of advanced energy materials. Interdisciplinary topics will be connected by invited talks in order to accelerate the fundamental understanding of these materials toward applications.