Block copolymer based composition and morphology control in nanostructured hybrid materials for energy conversion and storage: solar cells, batteries, and fuel cells

M. Christopher Orilall, Ulrich Wiesner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

459 Scopus citations


The development of energy conversion and storage devices is at the forefront of research geared towards a sustainable future. However, there are numerous issues that prevent the widespread use of these technologies including cost, performance and durability. These limitations can be directly related to the materials used. In particular, the design and fabrication of nanostructured hybrid materials is expected to provide breakthroughs for the advancement of these technologies. This tutorial review will highlight block copolymers as an emerging and powerful yet affordable tool to structure-direct such nanomaterials with precise control over structural dimensions, composition and spatial arrangement of materials in composites. After providing an introduction to materials design and current limitations, the review will highlight some of the most recent examples of block copolymer structure-directed nanomaterials for photovoltaics, batteries and fuel cells. In each case insights are provided into the various underlying fundamental chemical, thermodynamic and kinetic formation principles enabling general and relatively inexpensive wet-polymer chemistry methodologies for the efficient creation of multiscale functional materials. Examples include nanostructured ceramics, ceramic-carbon composites, ceramic-carbon-metal composites and metals with morphologies ranging from hexagonally arranged cylinders to three-dimensional bi-continuous cubic networks. The review ends with an outlook towards the synthesis of multicomponent and hierarchical multifunctional hybrid materials with different nano-architectures from self-assembly of higher order blocked macromolecules which may ultimately pave the way for the further development of energy conversion and storage devices. © 2011 The Royal Society of Chemistry.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)520-535
Number of pages16
JournalChem. Soc. Rev.
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: This paper is mostly based on research performed in the Materials Science and Engineering Department of Cornell University over the last ten to fifteen years. It gives us great pleasure to thank all of our colleagues and co-workers who have contributed to the work. UW would like to thank the National Science Foundation, which through funding by the Division of Materials Research (DMR) has enabled continuous progress in the Wiesner group over the years at Cornell on block copolymer based hybrid research. The energy conversion and storage related work was further supported by the Cornell Fuel Cell Institute (CFCI) and the Energy Materials Center at Cornell (EMC),2 an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science, Office of Basic Energy Sciences under Award Number DE-SC0001086, as well as by the KAUST-CU center at Cornell. Special thanks go to Morgan Stefik for carefully reading the manuscript.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.


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