Graduate Student Highlight: Chen Chen

Name:  Chen Chen

Degree Program:  Doctor of Philosophy in Fiber and Polymer Science

Advisor(s):  Pro. Xiangwu Zhang

Degrees you have:  BS in textile engineering, MS in textile engineering

Where are you from?

PuYang, He Nan province, China

What is your town / country like?

My hometown is a small city with few industries. It has a good environment and it is evidenced that people began to live in that area thousands of years ago.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University?

I got the chance to join the 3+X program between Donghua University and NC State University at 2011 then I decide to finish my PhD here, since the Wilson College of Textiles at NC State has the best research team in the world.

Give a short description of your research:

My work is focused on the novel materials including nanofibers and other nano-sized materials for lithium and sodium-ion batteries.

How does your research impact the world?

Since the rapid development of the society, more and more energies are being consumed and most of them are from fossil fuels. The energy storage devices like lithium and sodium-ion batteries are critical in utilizing renewable energy which is beneficial to our environment. My research aims to develop novel battery materials to synthesize rechargeable batteries with higher capacities and shorter charging time.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?  If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level:

Chen Chen, Kun Fu, Yao Lu, Jiadeng Zhu, Leigang Xue, Yi Hu and Xiangwu Zhang* (2014)

Use of a tin antimony alloy-filled porous carbon nanofiber composite as an anode in sodium-ion batteries. RSC Adv., 2015,5, 30793-30800

Abstract: Lithium-ion battery is currently the dominant energy storage technology for electronic devices and electric vehicles. However, the predictable rising cost of lithium raw materials has attracted increasing interest in less expensive rivals, such as sodium-ion battery. In this work, a tin antimony (SnSb) alloy-filled porous carbon nanofiber composite was prepared as a sodium-ion battery anode material by a simple electrospinning method with subsequent thermal treatment. The spinning solution contained antimony tin oxide nanoparticles as the SnSb alloy precursor, polyacrylonitrile as the carbon precursor, and polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) as the pore generator. The resultant SnSb@C nanofiber composite formed a continuous conductive network, which was favorable for enhancing its electrochemical performance. The presence of the SnSb alloy significantly increased the energy storage capacity of the composite due to its high theoretical capacity. The porous structure created by the decomposition of the PMMA polymer provided a free space to buffer the volume change of the SnSb alloy during the sodiation–desodiation process. The resultant SnSb@C nanofiber composite exhibited high capacity and a stable rate capability, and it was demonstrated to be a promising anode candidate for sodium-ion batteries.

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State?

The TECS department has the best faculty and staff team that not only help me a lot in my research but also guide me to form a better personality.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how?

Pro. Xiangwu Zhang, who is my advisor for my master and PhD study has influenced most. Pro.Xiangwu Zhang is always strict and careful in the research and requires his students to do the research in the same way. Under his guidance, it helps to make me a careful and confident researcher.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study?

I chose the research that is related to the energy storage materials because it has great potential to change the world especially to help to use less fossil fuels. Furthermore, by reducing the fossil fuels, it is believed that the environment all over the world will be improved.