Newswise — A pioneer in material science, Meng’s new role comes with a joint appointment as a professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering at The University of Chicago.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory has recruited Shirley Meng to serve as chief scientist of the Argonne Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science (ACCESS). In this capacity, Meng will help drive energy storage research strategy at Argonne, which has a storied history of breakthrough battery and energy storage innovations.

Meng is an internationally recognized leader in energy storage research and currently serves as a materials scientist and professor at the University of California, San Diego. Her new role comes with a joint appointment as a professor at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at The University of Chicago.

To tackle the climate crisis, sustainable and resilient energy storage is one of the most important technologies humanity needs.” — Shirley Meng

We are thrilled to be adding Shirley to the Argonne team,” said Venkat Srinivasan, director of ACCESS and deputy director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. ​Energy storage in the electrochemical form is one of the key technologies for accelerating the nation’s path to a clean energy future. The research team Shirley will build at Argonne will supercharge battery activities underway and further establish the Chicago region as a world center for energy storage research.”

ACCESS is a cross-lab collective of scientists and engineers that works with public- and private-sector partners to solve complex energy storage problems through multidisciplinary research. As ACCESS chief scientist, Meng will focus on enhancing Argonne’s wide portfolio of battery research, which ranges from the fundamentals of battery science, to high-energy lithium-ion and beyond lithium-ion systems, to long duration stationary storage technologies.

To tackle the climate crisis, sustainable and resilient energy storage is one of the most important technologies humanity needs. I am excited and humbled to take up the role of ACCESS chief scientist,” said Meng, who will assume the role in January 2022. ​At the same time, as a faculty member of the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering, I hope to build an innovation ecosystem where we can train the next generation workforce, foster meaningful relations with industry both domestic and international, and make breakthroughs in energy storage technologies in the decade to come.”

Shirley is a world-leading researcher and an engineer whose success validates the central ethos of PME — that engineers of the next generation must adapt multiple disciplines to meet future demands,” said Matthew Tirrell, dean of PME. ​Her work regarding material design for energy storage aligns perfectly with, and will greatly expand, PME’s existing theme of Materials Systems for Sustainability and Health. She and her lab bring exceptional talent and expertise in next generation battery development to the University, Argonne, and the Chicagoland area.”

Meng’s career began at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in 2000. Meng earned her Ph.D. in materials science in 2005 from the National University in Singapore as a doctoral student under the supervision of battery scientist Gerbrand Ceder in the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) program. She went on to join MIT as a postdoctoral fellow.

Meng joined the University of Florida in 2008 as an assistant professor of materials science. A year later, she moved to the Nanoengineering Department at UC San Diego where she became the founding director of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center and has served as the inaugural director of the Institute for Materials Discovery and Design at UC San Diego since 2019.

For decades, Argonne has been a leader in the energy storage space,” said Kawtar Hafidi, associate laboratory director for Physical Sciences and Engineering. ​With Shirley on the ACCESS team, we are well-positioned to continue solving scientific challenges in energy storage and developing battery technologies that can transform the marketplace and change the world.”

Meng’s research has produced more than 225 publications as well as four issued and six pending patents. It has also led to startup companies in addition to higher energy, longer lasting and safer batteries.

One startup that spun out of Meng’s lab at UC San Diego, known as South 8 Technologies, is commercializing a liquefied gas electrolyte that Meng led the development of that allows for a new class of battery that can operate at -112°F. Current lithium-ion batteries cannot operate under -4°F. This invention could widen the market for lithium batteries for electric vehicles by removing a major barrier to functioning in extreme climates.

Meng herself is no stranger to Argonne, having conducted research at the laboratory as both a collaborator and a user. Using the ultrabright X-ray beams of the Advanced Photon Source, a DOE Office of Science user facility, Meng’s team was able to image the nanoparticles of batteries charging across a range of voltages to observe what causes ​voltage fade” in a class of cathode materials that holds promise for better rechargeable batteries for electric vehicles. The findings were published in the journal Nature Energy in 2018 in work supported by DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences.

Argonne National Laboratory is recognized as a global leader in energy storage research. Over the past 50 years, the pivotal discoveries of Argonne scientists and engineers have helped invigorate the U.S. battery manufacturing industry, aided the transition of the U.S. automotive fleet toward plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles, and enabled the integration of greater renewable energy use for long duration grid storage.

Battery research at Argonne is supported by a wide range of sponsors, including DOE’s Office of Basic Energy Sciences, DOE’s Office of Electricity, and the Vehicle Technologies Office in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

The Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), a DOE Energy Innovation Hub, is a major partnership that integrates researchers from many disciplines to overcome critical scientific and technical barriers and create new breakthrough energy storage technology. Led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, partners include national leaders in science and engineering from academia, the private sector, and national laboratories. Their combined expertise spans the full range of the technology-development pipeline from basic research to prototype development to product engineering to market delivery.

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://​ener​gy​.gov/​s​c​ience.