Virginia Tech® home

Feng Lin

Leo and Melva Harris Faculty Fellow
  • Associate Professor
Feng Lin
323 Davidson Hall

Research Interests

Renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, have huge potential to minimize our dependence on fossil fuels and to reduce greenhouse gas emission. However, solar and wind energy is uncertain and intermittent. Storing grid electricity in batteries or catalytically converting electrical energy to renewable fuels and chemicals can overcome the mismatch between renewable energy sources and demand. The development of these technologies requires efficient electrochemical systems that can operate at appropriate temperatures with minimal energy losses. Our research goal is to understand and control materials properties for electrochemical energy applications as well as to contribute to the fundamental progress of materials electrochemistry and solid-state chemistry. Our research team at Virginia Tech has focused on tailoring the electrochemical processes in batteries, electrocatalysis, and smart windows. Our central scientific question is how the local chemical and structural heterogeneities (e.g., doping chemistry, grain boundaries, dislocations, electrochemical interface) govern the redox reactions in redox-active solids at relevant length scales. We design and synthesize redox-active energy materials, characterize materials electrochemistry using synchrotron and electron analytical techniques, and measure electrochemical performance in various  systems. We also apply theoretical calculations and multiscale modeling through collaborations to enhance our fundamental understanding. Recently, we have begun to develop machine learning approaches to identify critical material properties that dictate electrochemical performance.

Our specific research areas are:

  1. Solid–liquid Interfaces in Batteries, Electrochemical Catalysis, and Electrochromics
  2. Phase Transformations, Crystallographic Defects, Charge Distribution, and Chemomechanical Properties in Battery Materials
  3. Surface-to-Bulk Electrochemistry in Battery Materials
  4. Stable, High Capacity Anodes for Li and Na Metal Batteries
  5. Continuously Tunable Metal Oxides to Support Nanocatalysts
  6. Solid State Batteries
  1. Kuai, C.; Xu, Z.; Xi, C.; Hu, A.; Yang, Z.; Zhang, Y.; Sun, C.-J.; Li, L.; Sokaras, D.; Dong, C.; Qiao, S.-Z.; Du, X.-W.; Lin, F. Phase Segregation Reversibility in Mixed Metal Hydroxide Water Oxidation Catalysts. Nature Catalysis DOI: 10.1038/s41929-020-0496-z (2020)
  2. Rahman, M. M.;  Chen, W.; Mu, L.; Xu, Z.; Xiao, Z.; Li. M.; Bai, X.-M. and Lin, F. Defect and Structural Evolution under High-Energy Ion Irradiation Informs Battery Materials Design for Extreme Environments. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-18345-4 (2020)
  3. Jiang, Z.; Li, J.; Yang, Y.; Mu, L.; Wei, C.; Yu, X.; Piero, P.; Zhao, K.; Cloetens, P.; Lin, F.; Liu, Y.​Machine-Learning-Revealed Statistics of the Particle-Carbon/Binder Detachment in Li-Ion Battery Cathodes. Nature Communications 11, 2310 (2020)
  4. Xu, Z.; Jiang, Z.; Kuai, C.; Xu, R.; Qin, C.; Zhang, Y.;  Rahman, M. M.; Wei, C.; Nordlund, D.; Sun, C.-J.; Xiao, X.; Du, X.-W.; Zhao, K.; Yan, P.; Liu, Y.; Lin, F. Charge Distribution Guided by Grain Crystallographic Orientations in Polycrystalline Battery Materials. Nature Communications 11, 83 (2020)
  5. Mu, L.; Yuan, Q.; Tian, C.; Wei, C.; Zhang, K.; Liu, J.; Pianetta, P.; Doeff, M. M.; Liu, Y.; Lin, F. Propagation Topography of Redox Phase Transformations in Heterogeneous Layered Oxide Cathode Materials. Nature Communications 9, 2810 (2018)
  6. Xu, Z.; Hou, D.; Kautz, D. J.; Liu, W.; Xu, R.; Xiao, X.; Lin, F. Charging Reactions Promoted by Geometrically Necessary Dislocations in Battery Materials Revealed by In Situ Single-Particle Synchrotron Measurements. Advanced Materials DOI: 10.1002/adma.202003417 (2020)
  7. Rahman, M. M.; Xu, Y.; Cheng, H.; Shi, Q.; Kou, R.; Mu, L.; Liu, Q.; Xia, S.; Xiao, X.; Sun, C.-J.; Sokaras, D.; Nordlund, D.; Zheng, J.-C.; Liu, Y.; Lin, F. Empowering Multicomponent Cathode Materials for Sodium Ion Batteries by Exploring Three-Dimensional Compositional Heterogeneities. Energy & Environmental Science 11, 2496-2508 (2018)
  8. Mu, L.; Lin, R.; Xu, R.; Han, L.; Xia, S.; Sokaras, D.; Steiner, J. D.; Weng, T-C.; Nordlund, D.; Doeff, M. M.; Liu, Y.; Zhao, K.; Xin, H. L.; Lin, F. Oxygen Release Induced Chemomechanical Breakdown of Layered Cathode Materials. Nano Letters 18, 3241-3249 (2018)
  9. Mu, L.; Zhang, R.; Kan, W. H.; Zhang, Y.; Li, L.; Kuai, C.; Zydlewski, B.; Rahman, M. M.; Sun, C.; Sainio, S.; Avdeev, M.; Nordlund, D.; Xin, H.L.; Lin, F. Dopant Distribution in Co-free High Energy Layered Cathode Materials. Chemistry of Materials 31, 9769-9776 (2019)
  10. Mu, L.; Feng, X.; Kou, R.; Zhang, Y.; Guo, H.; Tian, C.; Sun, C.-J.; Du, X.W.; Nordlund, D.; Xin, H. L.; Lin, F. Deciphering the Cathode–Electrolyte Interfacial Chemistry in Sodium Layered Cathode Materials. Advanced Energy Materials 8, 1801975 (2018)
  • NSF CAREER Award, 2021
  • Energy Storage Materials Young Scientist Award from Elsevier, 2020
  • Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) Scialog Fellow, 2020
  • ACS-PRF Doctoral New Investigator, 2020
  • Journal of Materials Chemistry Emerging Investigator, 2018
  • Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, 2017 
  • Spicer Young Investigator Award, DOE SLAC National Acceleratory Laboratory, 2015
  • Finalist of Young Scientists Award, International Society of Solid State Ionics, 2015
  • Top 10 Scientific Achievements, DOE Brookhaven National Laboratory, 2014
  • B.S. Materials Science & Engineering, Tianjin University, China, 2009
  • Ph.D. Materials Science, Colorado School of Mines, 2012
  • Graduate Researcher, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 2010–2012
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, 2013–2015