Winner of the fifth PANalytical Award: Yue Deng

The PANalytical Award 2016 has been won by Dr. Yue Deng, former PhD student of the University of Bath (UK) and the University of Picardie (Amiens, France). The prize is based on a research article published in Journal of the American Chemical Society, (2015) 137, 9136-9145, titled: 'Structural and Mechanistic Insights into Fast Lithium-Ion Conduction in Li4SiO4-Li3PO4 Solid Electrolytes’, authored by Yue Deng, Christopher Eames, Jean-Noël Chotard, Fabien Lalère, Vincent Seznec, Steffen Emge, Oliver Pecher, Clare P. Grey and his supervisors Christian Masquelier and M. Saiful Islam. As entrant and first author on the publication Dr. Deng is to receive the award trophy, a certificate and €5,000 in prize money from PANalytical.

In his work Dr. Deng investigated the Li4SiO4-Li3PO4 solid electrolyte system by a powerful multi-technique approach of diffraction, AC impedance, NMR spectroscopy and atomistic modeling to obtain new information about the crystal structures and lithium-ion conduction mechanisms. He characterized previously unidentified superstructure and immiscibility features in high-purity samples by X-ray and neutron diffraction across a range of compositions. MD simulations reveal new mechanistic insights into the mixed Si/P compositions in which Li-ion conduction occurs through 3D pathways and a cooperative interstitial mechanism. Such correlated motion is a key factor in promoting high ionic conductivity. The results of the described research will help to develop strategies to optimize the ionic conductivity in this system and to identify next-generation solid electrolytes.

Researchers that have never held a professorship and who use laboratory-scale X-ray equipment as their primary analytical technique were eligible to apply for the award. Entries for the award could be submitted during the course of 2016 and had to have been published in the period between 1 January 2015 and 1 December 2016. The winning article was chosen by a committee composed primarily of researchers from PANalytical and approved by a group of 5 independent scientists. It was selected from a strong field of more than 100 entries submitted from across the globe.

The judges were especially impressed by the original results of Dr. Deng’s comprehensive work, which open the way to new solid electrolytes with enhanced conductivity. He synthesized and characterized the investigated materials, did the MD simulations and data analysis. His supervisors were particularly impressed by Dr. Deng’s ability to collaborate with research groups both in the UK and France and achieve the presented results.

Dr. Yue Deng obtained his Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the Peking University and his Master in Materials Sciences at the Chimie ParisTech (France). He did his PhD during 2013-2016 at the University of Picardie (Amiens, France) with Prof. Christian Masquelier in collaboration with the University of Bath (UK), Department of Chemistry with Prof. M. Saiful Islam. His research dealt with solid electrolyte materials for lithium-ion batteries and computer simulations of material properties.

He is delighted by PANalytical’s recognition of his research and says: ”Diffraction has been a key technique connecting our experimental findings and results from computer simulation. This award is a great acknowledgement for the value of our work, and a great encouragement for me to apply my knowledge of diffraction and crystallography in my career. I am very grateful for it.”

In the strong field of candidates the jury identified two close runner-up’s: Dr. Nathan Bossa for his publication in Cement and Concrete Research 67 (2015) 138-147, ‘Micro- and nano-X-ray computed-tomography: A step forward in the characterization of the pore network of a leached cement paste’ and Dr. Clément Falaise for his article in Chemistry – A European Journal (2016), 22, 14678-14687, ‘The Key Role of U28 in the Aqueous Self-Assembly of Uranyl Peroxide Nanocages’.

PANalytical is a proud proponent of early-career scientists.

Members of the selection comittee

1. Prof. Shiv Halasyamani , Department of Chemistry, University of Houston, TX, USA
2. Prof. Yoshiyuki Inaguma , Department of Chemistry, Gakushin University, Tokyo, Japan
3. Prof. Massimo Nespolo , Lab of Crystallography, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance and Modeling, University of Lorraine, France
4. Prof. Petra Rudolf, Head of the Surfaces and Thin Films group, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
5. Prof. P. Venugopalan, Chemistry Department, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India