After many years of cutting-edge research – two of which were funded by a PUF grant – a principal researcher on the “MXenes” PUF project, Professor Patrice Simon, has been selected to receive a 2015 Silver Medal from CNRS (French National Research Organization – Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique). The distinction recognizes his exceptional work on supercapacitors—devices that store electronic energy in an electrochemical form and charge in just a few seconds.
Simon is one of just two chemists in France that will be awarded this prestigious medal this year. The Medal is bestowed on researchers for extraordinary originality, quality, and significance in scientific research as acknowledged by the international scientific community. In addition to working on the PUF project, Simon is Deputy Director of the French RS2E Network (www.energie-rs2e.com/en), a research and transfer technology network that specializes in studying and industrializing electrochemical energy in France and Director of the ALISTORE European Research Institute on Li-based batteries (www.alistore.eu).
The “MXenes- New Two-Dimensional Ceramics for Better Li-Ion Batteries” PUF partnership unites professors Yury Gogotsi, Distinguished University Professor and Trustee Chair at Drexel University in Philadelphia, who was awarded an honorary Doctor honoris causa degree from Université Paul Sabatier in 2014, and Patrice Simon, Professor at Université Paul Sabatier, CIRIMAT, who are pioneering alternative, renewable energy sources that aim to improve certain aspects of lithium batteries – the most widely used electrical energy storage devices. The collaborating universities, Drexel and Université Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, are investigating a new class of atomatically thin two-dimentional materials that combine the laminate structure of graphene with titanium, vanadium and other elements that can provide higher lithium uptake per atom and ultimately create a better battery.
“I am deeply honored by this recognition from the CNRS,” said Patrice Simon, “and I take it as strong encouragement to further pursue this work. The PUF grant has been of great help in strengthening the collaboration with Yury Gogotsi and producing significant scientific achievements.”
The results of the PUF-supported “MXenes” partnership have been substantial: the partners, whose collaborative research started long ago, recently published two articles in Science magazine, among several excellent joint publications with both French and American students as co-authors. The team, composed of eight American faculty and Ph.D. students and three French faculty and Ph.D. students, has begun to improve lithium battery anodes and Li-ion capacitor electrodes based on the fundamental knowledge obtained as a result of the PUF-supported collaboration. The team has also submitted a joint patent application for a “Method and device to remove ions form an electrolytic media.”
“The PUF grant has made a real impact on the US-France collaboration in energy science” stated Yury Gogotsi.
In addition to these impressive results, the “MXenes” program has fostered unparalleled educational opportunities for students. In its first year alone, two American Ph.D. students received training on electrochemical characterization of energy storage systems at Université Paul Sabatier. Seven partners also traveled for research and collaboration purposes to locations including New Orleans, Toulouse, and other parts of France and America, and five conferences and events relating to the project were held. Deepening the partnership between Drexel and Université Paul Sabatier, the PUF support made it possible for the two universities to sign a dual PhD agreement which will amplify the potential of the brightest French and American students.