Xian is now a postdoc researcher in the Group of Jian Qin, Department of Chemical Engineering. His research is focused on the theoretical and simulation studies of polymer in applications of battery.

Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Engineering, Tsinghua University (2010)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Tsinghua University (2016)

All Publications

  • Steric Effect Tuned Ion Solvation Enabling Stable Cycling of High-Voltage Lithium Metal Battery. Journal of the American Chemical Society Chen, Y., Yu, Z., Rudnicki, P., Gong, H., Huang, Z., Kim, S. C., Lai, J., Kong, X., Qin, J., Cui, Y., Bao, Z. 2021


    1,2-Dimethoxyethane (DME) is a common electrolyte solvent for lithium metal batteries. Various DME-based electrolyte designs have improved long-term cyclability of high-voltage full cells. However, insufficient Coulombic efficiency at the Li anode and poor high-voltage stability remain a challenge for DME electrolytes. Here, we report a molecular design principle that utilizes a steric hindrance effect to tune the solvation structures of Li+ ions. We hypothesized that by substituting the methoxy groups on DME with larger-sized ethoxy groups, the resulting 1,2-diethoxyethane (DEE) should have a weaker solvation ability and consequently more anion-rich inner solvation shells, both of which enhance interfacial stability at the cathode and anode. Experimental and computational evidence indicates such steric-effect-based design leads to an appreciable improvement in electrochemical stability of lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (LiFSI)/DEE electrolytes. Under stringent full-cell conditions of 4.8 mAh cm-2 NMC811, 50 mum thin Li, and high cutoff voltage at 4.4 V, 4 M LiFSI/DEE enabled 182 cycles until 80% capacity retention while 4 M LiFSI/DME only achieved 94 cycles. This work points out a promising path toward the molecular design of non-fluorinated ether-based electrolyte solvents for practical high-voltage Li metal batteries.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.1c09006

    View details for PubMedID 34709034

  • A molecular design approach towards elastic and multifunctional polymer electronics. Nature communications Zheng, Y., Yu, Z., Zhang, S., Kong, X., Michaels, W., Wang, W., Chen, G., Liu, D., Lai, J., Prine, N., Zhang, W., Nikzad, S., Cooper, C. B., Zhong, D., Mun, J., Zhang, Z., Kang, J., Tok, J. B., McCulloch, I., Qin, J., Gu, X., Bao, Z. 2021; 12 (1): 5701


    Next-generation wearable electronics require enhanced mechanical robustness and device complexity. Besides previously reported softness and stretchability, desired merits for practical use include elasticity, solvent resistance, facilepatternability and high charge carrier mobility. Here, we show a molecular design concept that simultaneously achieves all these targeted properties in both polymeric semiconductors and dielectrics, without compromising electrical performance. This is enabled by covalently-embedded in-situ rubber matrix (iRUM) formation through good mixing of iRUM precursors with polymer electronic materials, and finely-controlled composite film morphology built on azide crosslinking chemistry which leverages different reactivities with C-H and C=C bonds. The high covalent crosslinking density results in both superior elasticity and solvent resistance. When applied in stretchable transistors, the iRUM-semiconductor film retained its mobility after stretching to 100% strain, and exhibited record-high mobility retention of 1 cm2 V-1 s-1 after 1000 stretching-releasing cycles at 50% strain. The cycling life was stably extended to 5000 cycles, five times longer than all reported semiconductors. Furthermore, we fabricated elastic transistors via consecutively photo-patterning of the dielectric and semiconducting layers, demonstrating the potential of solution-processed multilayer device manufacturing. The iRUM represents a molecule-level design approach towards robust skin-inspired electronics.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-25719-9

    View details for PubMedID 34588448

  • Potentiometric Measurement to Probe Solvation Energy and Its Correlation to Lithium Battery Cyclability. Journal of the American Chemical Society Kim, S. C., Kong, X., Vila, R. A., Huang, W., Chen, Y., Boyle, D. T., Yu, Z., Wang, H., Bao, Z., Qin, J., Cui, Y. 2021


    The electrolyte plays a critical role in lithium-ion batteries, as it impacts almost every facet of a battery's performance. However, our understanding of the electrolyte, especially solvation of Li+, lags behind its significance. In this work, we introduce a potentiometric technique to probe the relative solvation energy of Li+ in battery electrolytes. By measuring open circuit potential in a cell with symmetric electrodes and asymmetric electrolytes, we quantitatively characterize the effects of concentration, anions, and solvents on solvation energy across varied electrolytes. Using the technique, we establish a correlation between cell potential (Ecell) and cyclability of high-performance electrolytes for lithium metal anodes, where we find that solvents with more negative cell potentials and positive solvation energies-those weakly binding to Li+-lead to improved cycling stability. Cryogenic electron microscopy reveals that weaker solvation leads to an anion-derived solid-electrolyte interphase that stabilizes cycling. Using the potentiometric measurement for characterizing electrolytes, we establish a correlation that can guide the engineering of effective electrolytes for the lithium metal anode.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.1c03868

    View details for PubMedID 34184873

  • Weakening of Solvation-Induced Ordering by Composition Fluctuation in Salt-Doped Block Polymers ACS MACRO LETTERS Kong, X., Hou, K., Qin, J. 2021; 10 (5): 545-550
  • Dual-Solvent Li-Ion Solvation Enables High-Performance Li-Metal Batteries ADVANCED MATERIALS Wang, H., Yu, Z., Kong, X., Huang, W., Zhang, Z., Mackanic, D. G., Huang, X., Qin, J., Bao, Z., Cui, Y. 2021: e2008619


    Novel electrolyte designs to further enhance the lithium (Li) metal battery cyclability are highly desirable. Here, fluorinated 1,6-dimethoxyhexane (FDMH) is designed and synthesized as the solvent molecule to promote electrolyte stability with its prolonged -CF2 - backbone. Meanwhile, 1,2-dimethoxyethane is used as a co-solvent to enable higher ionic conductivity and much reduced interfacial resistance. Combining the dual-solvent system with 1 m lithium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (LiFSI), high Li-metal Coulombic efficiency (99.5%) and oxidative stability (6 V) are achieved. Using this electrolyte, 20 µm Li||NMC batteries are able to retain ≈80% capacity after 250 cycles and Cu||NMC anode-free pouch cells last 120 cycles with 75% capacity retention under ≈2.1 µL mAh-1 lean electrolyte conditions. Such high performances are attributed to the anion-derived solid-electrolyte interphase, originating from the coordination of Li-ions to the highly stable FDMH and multiple anions in their solvation environments. This work demonstrates a new electrolyte design strategy that enables high-performance Li-metal batteries with multisolvent Li-ion solvation with rationally optimized molecular structure and ratio.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.202008619

    View details for Web of Science ID 000648495100001

    View details for PubMedID 33969571

  • Physical networks from entropy-driven non-covalent interactions. Nature communications Yu, A. C., Lian, H., Kong, X., Lopez Hernandez, H., Qin, J., Appel, E. A. 2021; 12 (1): 746


    Physical networks typically employ enthalpy-dominated crosslinking interactions that become more dynamic at elevated temperatures, leading to network softening. Moreover, standard mathematical frameworks such as time-temperature superposition assume network softening and faster dynamics at elevated temperatures. Yet, deriving a mathematical framework connecting the crosslinking thermodynamics to the temperature-dependent viscoelasticity of physical networks suggests the possibility for entropy-driven crosslinking interactions to provide alternative temperature dependencies. This framework illustrates that temperature negligibly affects crosslink density in reported systems, but drastically influences crosslink dynamics. While the dissociation rate of enthalpy-driven crosslinks is accelerated at elevated temperatures, the dissociation rate of entropy-driven crosslinks is negligibly affected or even slowed under these conditions. Here we report an entropy-driven physical network based on polymer-nanoparticle interactions that exhibits mechanical properties that are invariant with temperature. These studies provide a foundation for designing and characterizing entropy-driven physical crosslinking motifs and demonstrate how these physical networks access thermal properties that are not observed in current physical networks.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41467-021-21024-7

    View details for PubMedID 33531475

  • Molecular design for electrolyte solvents enabling energy-dense and long-cycling lithium metal batteries NATURE ENERGY Yu, Z., Wang, H., Kong, X., Huang, W., Tsao, Y., Mackanic, D. G., Wang, K., Wang, X., Huang, W., Choudhury, S., Zheng, Y., Amanchukwu, C., Hung, S. T., Ma, Y., Lomeli, E. G., Qin, J., Cui, Y., Bao, Z. 2020
  • A hybrid theoretical method for predicting electrokinetic energy conversion in nanochannels PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY CHEMICAL PHYSICS Hu, X., Nan, Y., Kong, X., Lu, D., Wu, J. 2020; 22 (16): 9110-9116


    The traditional methods to predict electrokinetic energy conversion (EKEC) in nanochannels are mostly based on the Navier-Stokes (NS) equation for ionic flow and the Poisson-Boltzmann (PB) equation for charge distributions, which is questionable for ion transport through highly charged nanochannels. In this work, the classical density functional theory (cDFT) is used together with molecular dynamics (MD) simulation and the Navier-Stokes (NS) equation to predict the electrical current and the thermodynamic efficiency of electrokinetic energy conversion in nanochannels. By introducing numerical results for the slip length calculated from MD simulation, a significant increase of the electrokinetic current is predicted in comparison to that obtained from the traditional electrokinetic equations with the non-slip boundary condition, leading to the theoretical predictions of the thermodynamic efficiency for electrokinetic energy conversion in nanochannels in good agreement with recent experiments. The hybrid method predicts that maximum electrokinetic efficiency can be achieved by tuning the channel height and solution conditions including electrolyte concentrations, ion valences, and surface energies. The theoretical results provide new insights into pressure-driven electrical energy generation processes and helpful guidelines for engineering design and optimization of electrokinetic energy conversion.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/d0cp00997k

    View details for Web of Science ID 000537175100083

    View details for PubMedID 32301460

  • A New Class of Ionically Conducting Fluorinated Ether Electrolytes with High Electrochemical Stability. Journal of the American Chemical Society Amanchukwu, C. V., Yu, Z., Kong, X., Qin, J., Cui, Y., Bao, Z. 2020


    Increasing battery energy density is greatly desired for applications such as portable electronics and transportation. However, many next-generation batteries are limited by electrolyte selection because high ionic conductivity and poor electrochemical stability are typically observed in most electrolytes. For example, ether-based electrolytes have high ionic conductivity but are oxidatively unstable above 4 V, which prevents the use of high-voltage cathodes that promise higher energy densities. In contrast, hydrofluoroethers (HFEs) have high oxidative stability but do not dissolve lithium salt. In this work, we synthesize a new class of fluorinated ether electrolytes that combine the oxidative stability of HFEs with the ionic conductivity of ethers in a single compound. We show that conductivities of up to 2.7 * 10-4 S/cm (at 30 °C) can be obtained with oxidative stability up to 5.6 V. The compounds also show higher lithium transference numbers compared to typical ethers. Furthermore, we use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and molecular dynamics (MD) to study their ionic transport behavior and ion solvation environment, respectively. Finally, we demonstrate that this new class of electrolytes can be used with a Ni-rich layered cathode (NMC 811) to obtain over 100 cycles at a C/5 rate. The design of new molecules with high ionic conductivity and high electrochemical stability is a novel approach for the rational design of next-generation batteries.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.9b11056

    View details for PubMedID 32233433

  • Dendrite Suppression by a Polymer Coating: A Coarse-Grained Molecular Study ADVANCED FUNCTIONAL MATERIALS Kong, X., Rudnicki, P. E., Choudhury, S., Bao, Z., Qin, J. 2020
  • Electrochemical generation of liquid and solid sulfur on two-dimensional layered materials with distinct areal capacities. Nature nanotechnology Yang, A. n., Zhou, G. n., Kong, X. n., Vilá, R. A., Pei, A. n., Wu, Y. n., Yu, X. n., Zheng, X. n., Wu, C. L., Liu, B. n., Chen, H. n., Xu, Y. n., Chen, D. n., Li, Y. n., Fakra, S. n., Hwang, H. Y., Qin, J. n., Chu, S. n., Cui, Y. n. 2020


    It has recently been shown that sulfur, a solid material in its elementary form S8, can stay in a supercooled state as liquid sulfur in an electrochemical cell. We establish that this newly discovered state could have implications for lithium-sulfur batteries. Here, through in situ studies of electrochemical sulfur generation, we show that liquid (supercooled) and solid elementary sulfur possess very different areal capacities over the same charging period. To control the physical state of sulfur, we studied its growth on two-dimensional layered materials. We found that on the basal plane, only liquid sulfur accumulates; by contrast, at the edge sites, liquid sulfur accumulates if the thickness of the two-dimensional material is small, whereas solid sulfur nucleates if the thickness is large (tens of nanometres). Correlating the sulfur states with their respective areal capacities, as well as controlling the growth of sulfur on two-dimensional materials, could provide insights for the design of future lithium-sulfur batteries.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41565-019-0624-6

    View details for PubMedID 31988508

  • Transient Voltammetry with Ultramicroelectrodes Reveals the Electron Transfer Kinetics of Lithium Metal Anodes Adv. Energy Lett. Boyle, D., Kong, X., Pei, A., Rudnicki, P., Shi, F., Huang, W., Bao, Z., Qin, J., Cui, Y. 2020; 5: 701-709
  • 'Chromatic' neuronal jamming in a primitive brain Nature Physics Khariton, M., Kong, X., Qin, J., Wang, B. 2020
  • Electrochemical generation of liquid and solid sulfur on two-dimensional layered materials with distinct areal capacities Nature Nanotechnology Yang, A., Zhou, G., et al 2020
  • Nonpolar Alkanes Modify Lithium-Ion Solvation for Improved Lithium Deposition and Stripping ADVANCED ENERGY MATERIALS Amanchukwu, C., Kong, X., Qin, J., Cui, Y., Bao, Z. 2019
  • Geometric structure-guided photo-driven ion current through asymmetric graphene oxide membranes JOURNAL OF MATERIALS CHEMISTRY A Feng, Y., Dai, H., Chen, J., Kong, X., Yang, J., Jiang, L. 2019; 7 (35): 20182–86

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c9ta07570d

    View details for Web of Science ID 000489686400013

  • An Atomistic Simulation Study on POC/PIM Mixed-Matrix Membranes for Gas Separation JOURNAL OF PHYSICAL CHEMISTRY C Kong, X., Liu, J. 2019; 123 (24): 15113–21
  • Ultrathin, flexible, solid polymer composite electrolyte enabled with aligned nanoporous host for lithium batteries. Nature nanotechnology Wan, J., Xie, J., Kong, X., Liu, Z., Liu, K., Shi, F., Pei, A., Chen, H., Chen, W., Chen, J., Zhang, X., Zong, L., Wang, J., Chen, L., Qin, J., Cui, Y. 2019


    The urgent need for safer batteries is leading research to all-solid-state lithium-based cells. To achieve energy density comparable to liquid electrolyte-based cells, ultrathin and lightweight solid electrolytes with high ionic conductivity are desired. However, solid electrolytes with comparable thicknesses to commercial polymer electrolyte separators (~10mum) used in liquid electrolytes remain challenging to make because of the increased risk of short-circuiting the battery. Here, we report on a polymer-polymer solid-state electrolyte design, demonstrated with an 8.6-mum-thick nanoporous polyimide (PI) film filled with polyethylene oxide/lithium bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide (PEO/LiTFSI) that can be used as a safe solid polymer electrolyte. The PI film is nonflammable and mechanically strong, preventing batteries from short-circuiting even after more than 1,000h of cycling, and the vertical channels enhance the ionic conductivity (2.3*10-4Scm-1 at 30°C) of the infused polymer electrolyte. All-solid-state lithium-ion batteries fabricated with PI/PEO/LiTFSI solid electrolyte show good cycling performance (200 cycles at C/2 rate) at 60°C and withstand abuse tests such as bending, cutting and nail penetration.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41565-019-0465-3

    View details for PubMedID 31133663

  • Flow effects on silicate dissolution and ion transport at an aqueous interface. Physical chemistry chemical physics : PCCP Lian, C., Kong, X., Liu, H., Wu, J. 2019


    Flow effects on chemical reactions at a solid-liquid interface are fundamental to diverse technological applications but remain poorly understood from a molecular perspective. In this work, we demonstrate that the coupling between laminar flow and surface chemistry can be adequately described using classical density functional theory for ion distributions near the surface in conjunction with kinetics modeling and the Navier-Stokes equation. In good agreement with recent experiments, we find that flowing of fresh water over a silica surface may result in drastic changes in the rate of silica dissolution and, consequently, the surface charge density and the interfacial structure. A nonlinear streaming current is predicted when the surface reactions are disturbed by a laminar flow.

    View details for DOI 10.1039/c9cp00640k

    View details for PubMedID 30869104

  • Light-Powered Directional Nanofluidic Ion Transport in Kirigami-Made Asymmetric Photonic-Ionic Devices. Small (Weinheim an der Bergstrasse, Germany) Jia, M. n., Kong, X. n., Wang, L. n., Zhang, Y. n., Quan, D. n., Ding, L. n., Lu, D. n., Jiang, L. n., Guo, W. n. 2019: e1905557


    Nacre-mimetic 2D nanofluidic materials with densely packed sub-nanometer-height lamellar channels find widespread applications in water-, energy-, and environment-related aspects by virtue of their scalable fabrication methods and exceptional transport properties. Recently, light-powered nanofluidic ion transport in synthetic materials gained considerable attention for its remote, noninvasive, and active control of the membrane transport property using the energy of light. Toward practical application, a critical challenge is to overcome the dependence on inhomogeneous or site-specific light illumination. Here, asymmetric photonic-ionic devices based on kirigami-tailored graphene oxide paper are fabricated, and directional nanofluidic ion transport properties therein powered by full-area light illumination are demonstrated. The in-plane asymmetry of the graphene oxide paper is essential to the generation of photoelectric driving force under homogeneous illumination. This light-powered ion transport phenomenon is explained based on a modified carrier diffusion model. In asymmetric nanofluidic structures, enhanced recombination of photoexcited charge carriers at the membrane boundary breaks the electric potential balance in the horizontal direction, and thus drives the ion transport in that direction under symmetric illumination. The kirigami-based strategy provides a facile and scalable way to fabricate paper-like photonic-ionic devices with arbitrary shapes, working as fundamental elements for large-scale light-harvesting nanofluidic circuits.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/smll.201905557

    View details for PubMedID 31805218