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  1. Abstract

    Iron oxide is commonly found in natural or industrial glass compositions and can exist as ferrous (Fe2+) or ferric (Fe3+) species, with their ratios depending on glass composition, temperature, pressure and the redox reactions during the glass forming process. The iron redox ratio plays an important role on silicate glass structures and consequently various properties. This work aims to study the effect of iron oxide, and particularly the iron redox ratio, on the structures of borosilicate and boroaluminosilicate glasses using molecular dynamics simulations with newly developed iron potential parameters that are compatible with the borosilicate potentials. The results provide detailed cation coordination states of both iron species and the effect of redox ratio on boron coordination and other structural features. Particularly, competition for charge compensating modifier cations (such as Na+) among the fourfold‐coordinated cations such as B3+, Al3+, and Fe3+is investigated by calculating the cation–cation pair distribution functions and coordination preferential ratios. The results show that the trivalent ferric ions, with a shorter Fe–O bond distance and better defined first coordiation shell with mainly four‐fold coordination, act as a glass former whereas the divalent ferrous ions mainly play the role of glass modifier. The ferrous/ferric ratio (Fe2+/Fe3+) was found to affect the glass chemistry and hence glass properties by regulating the amount of four‐coordinated boron, the fraction of non‐briding oxygen and other features. The results are compared with available experimental data to gain insights of the complex structures and charge compensation schemes of the glass system.

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  2. Abstract

    Ever‐developing energy storage technologies demand the pursuit of advanced materials with multiple functionalities. Recent studies revealed that multiple heteroatom‐doped carbon has been wildly used for bi‐functional or even tri‐functional energy storage and conversion. However, few efforts have been made to uncover the origin of multi‐functionalities. Herein, a nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur tri‐doped carbon is designed in this work with large porosity, rich heteroatoms doping and high mass density, exhibiting excellent bifunctionalities on supercapacitors and oxygen reduction reaction. Importantly, the density functional theory calculations demonstrate the relevant co‐doping and tri‐doping generate more active sites on neighboring carbon atoms than single doping, and the same type of active sites may enhance bifunctionalities simultaneously. The present investigations provide a promising guidance on the design of multi‐functional materials for future energy storage and conversion applications.

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  3. Abstract

    Although tremendous efforts have been devoted to understanding the origin of boosted charge storage on heteroatom‐doped carbons, none of the present studies has shown a whole landscape. Herein, by both experimental evidence and theoretical simulation, it is demonstrated that heteroatom doping not only results in a broadened operating voltage, but also successfully promotes the specific capacitance in aqueous supercapacitors. In particular, the electrolyte cations adsorbed on heteroatom‐doped carbon can effectively inhibit hydrogen evolution reaction, a key step of water decomposition during the charging process, which broadens the voltage window of aqueous electrolytes even beyond the thermodynamic limit of water (1.23 V). Furthermore, the reduced adsorption energy of heteroatom‐doped carbon consequently leads to more stored cations on the heteroatom‐doped carbon surface, thus yielding a boosted charge storage performance.

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  4. Abstract

    Metal‐containing polymer networks are ubiquitous in biological systems, and their unique structures enable a variety of fascinating biological behaviors. Cuticle of mussel byssal threads, containing Fe‐catecholate complexes, shows remarkably high hardness, high extensibility, and self‐healing capability. Understanding strengthening and self‐healing mechanisms is essential for elucidating animal behaviors and rationally designing mussel‐inspired materials. Here, direct evidence of Fe3+and Fe2+gradient distribution across the cuticle thickness is demonstrated, which shows more Fe2+inside the inner cuticle, to support the hypothesis that the cuticle is a functionally graded material with high stiffness, extensibility, and self‐healing capacity. The mechanical tests of the mussel threads show that both strength and extensibility of the threads decrease with increasing oxygen contents, but this property degradation can be restored upon removing the oxygen. The first‐principles calculations explain the change in iron coordination, which plays a key role in strengthening, degradation, and self‐healing of the polymer networks. The oxygen absorbs on metal ions, weakening the iron‐catecholate bonds in the cuticle and collagen core, but this process can be reversed by sea water. These findings can have important implications in the design of next‐generation bioinspired robust, highly extensible materials, and catalysis.

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  5. Abstract

    Carbon nanomaterials are promising metal‐free catalysts for energy conversion and storage, but the catalysts are usually developed via traditional trial‐and‐error methods. To rationally design and accelerate the search for the highly efficient catalysts, it is necessary to establish design principles for the carbon‐based catalysts. Here, theoretical analysis and material design of metal‐free carbon nanomaterials as efficient photo‐/electrocatalysts to facilitate the critical chemical reactions in clean and sustainable energy technologies are reviewed. These reactions include the oxygen reduction reaction in fuel cells, the oxygen evolution reaction in metal–air batteries, the iodine reduction reaction in dye‐sensitized solar cells, the hydrogen evolution reaction in water splitting, and the carbon dioxide reduction in artificial photosynthesis. Basic catalytic principles, computationally guided design approaches and intrinsic descriptors, catalytic material design strategies, and future directions are discussed for the rational design and synthesis of highly efficient carbon‐based catalysts for clean energy technologies.

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  6. Abstract

    Covalent organic frameworks (COFs) are promising for catalysis, sensing, gas storage, adsorption, optoelectricity, etc. owning to the unprecedented combination of large surface area, high crystallinity, tunable pore size, and unique molecular architecture. Although COFs are in their initial research stage, progress has been made in the design and synthesis of COF‐based electrocatalysis for the oxygen reduction reaction, oxygen evolution reaction, hydrogen evolution reaction, and CO2reduction in energy conversion and fuel generation. Design principles are also established for some of the COF materials toward rational design and rapid screening of the best electrocatalysts for a specific application. Herein, the recent advances in the design and synthesis of COF‐based catalysts for clean energy conversion and storage are presented. Future research directions and perspectives are also being discussed for the development of efficient COF‐based electrocatalysts.

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  7. Abstract

    Graphene oxide (GO)‐based all‐solid‐state supercapacitors (GO‐A3Ss) are superior over liquid electrolyte‐based supercapacitors and capable of being integrated on a single chip in various geometry shapes for the use of future smart wearable electronics field as a fast energy storage device, but their capacitance need to be improved. Here, a new approach has been developed for enhancing the capacitive capability of the supercapacitors through molecular dynamics simulations with the first‐principle input. A theoretical model of charge storage is developed to understand the unique capacitive enhancement mechanism and to predict the capacitance of the GO‐A3Ss, which agrees well with the experimental observations. A novel supercapacitor with GO and reduced graphene oxide (rGO) alternatively layered structures is designed based on the model, and its energy density is the highest among conventional supercapacitors using liquid electrolytes and all‐solid‐state supercapacitors using aerogels or hydrogels as the solid‐state electrolyte. Based on the predictions, two new types of high‐performance GO/rGO multilayered capacitors are proposed to meet different practical applications. The results of this work provide an approach for the design of high‐performance all‐solid‐state supercapacitors based on GO and rGO materials.

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  8. Iron oxides are frequently found in natural and industrial glass compositions and can affect various physical and chemical properties of the glasses and their melts. Thus, a fundamental understanding of iron-bearing silicate melts and glasses is of both scientific and technological importance. This study investigates the structures of sodium iron silicate glasses with compositions of NaFeSiO4, NaFeSi2O6, NaFeSi3O8, and Na5FeSi4O12 using molecular dynamics simulations in combination with Extended X-ray Absorption Fine Structure (EXAFS) characterizations. Short and medium range structural features of these glasses support that ferrous (Fe2+) and ferric (Fe3+) ions play the roles of network modifier and network former, respectively, with the Fe oxidation states playing an important role in the polymerization of the glass network. These simulation results agree well with newly measured room temperature EXAFS spectra. The simulated glass structures were also compared to the melts structures with the same composition but different redox ratios. The average coordination numbers of the cations were found to be affected both by the melt temperature and iron redox ratio. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2025
  9. Yttrium aluminosilicate glasses with 25–78 mol% silica were studied using molecular dynamics simulations to understand their structural and property changes. The results show that Al3+ ions primarily exist as four-fold coordinated, with <5% in higher-coordinated states that increase with decreasing silica content. The formation of significant concentrations (4–9%) of oxygen tri-clusters and small amounts of free oxygen were also observed, suggesting a perturbed glass network structure. An average Y-O bond distance of 2.26 Å and Y coordination number of 6.3 were found. The glass transition temperatures are relatively insensitive to composition, agreeing with experiments. A 16% and 30% increase in Young's and bulk moduli, respectively, was observed with decreasing silica contents which was explained by the strong Y-O bond and formation of oxygen tri-clusters that aggregate higher coordinated Al species. These results were discussed in the context of optical and acoustic properties of YAS optical fibers that exhibit reduced nonlinearities. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available August 1, 2024
  10. Combining thermal and pressure effect represents a novel approach to modify glass properties. However, the microscopic structural origin of these property modifications is complex and far from fully understood, especially in multicomponent glasses with mixed glass formers. In this paper, we have utilized classical molecular dynamics simulations with a set of composition dependent potentials to investigate pressure-quenching effect on sodium borosilicate glasses. Processes including hot compression, cold compression and subsequent annealing on the structures and properties are investigated and compared. It was found that applying pressure up to 10 GPa at the glass transition temperature led to permanent densifications and a dramatic increase of elastic moduli by 90%, while thermal annealing reversed the increase and applying pressure at ambient temperture did not increase the modulus. The main structural change of the hot compressed sample is the increase of four-fold coordinated boron while silicon remains four-fold coordinated. The sodium environment shows an increase of coordination number and a decrease of Nasingle bondO and Nasingle bondNa bond distances. Medium range structure is also changed with an increase of 8-membered rings. These results provide atomistic insights of the pressure quench effect on borosilicate glasses. 
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