Second Place - Laila Jaber-Ansari

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Graduate Student, Department of Materials Science and Engineering

Increasing the efficiency of rechargeable batteries will also increase the viability of many clean energy technologies – for example, by allowing us to better store intermittent, renewable energy like solar power. Jaber-Ansari, a graduate student in the laboratory of Dr. Mark Hersam, is studying how metallic carbon nanotubes used as an electrode in lithium ion batteries can improve performance. Each tube, made up of a single layer of carbon atoms, is less than one nanometer in diameter, or one-billionth of a meter. Because of their size, they provide exceptionally high surface area and a more porous structure, allowing them to accommodate more lithium ions – more energy – than other materials. They are also strong and flexible, meaning they can endure many recharge cycles. Bundles of these tubes can be seen in the center of the image (purple), and either side of the image shows lithium and electrolyte (both in white) interspersed between the tubes.