MEPHEES – Nanostructured transition Metal Phosphides for Electrochemical Energy Storage


The widespread deployment of intermittent renewable energy depends critically on the development of energy storage technologies. Batteries and supercapacitors are energy storage devices that play important roles in both stationary and mobile applications. Storing renewable energy in rechargeable batteries is one of the few viable solutions. For large-scale deployment, however, the storage performance of batteries must be improved and costs reduced. It is critically important to develop new electrode materials that can provide high storage capacity, excellent rate capability, and long cycle life.

More recently, transition metal phosphides (TMPs) have emerged a promising class of electrode materials for use in lithium-ion batteries and supercapacitor, because TMPs are metalloidal and thereby have a high electrical conductivity. Moreover, TMP reacts with lithium during the conversion reaction forming superionic lithium conductor Li3P (>100 uS/cm at 300 K), which can serve as a matrix to disperse metal nanoparticles and maintain the reaction activity of electrode materials. Therefore, it is expected that TMP based electrodes could offer improved rate capability.

The MePhEES project aimed to develop new nanostructured transition metal phosphides (TMPs) and investigate their electrochemical performance for use as anode materials in Lithium-ion/Sodium-ion batteries (LIBs/SIBs). The project was aligned with the AIR Centre – “Clean Energy Tech”. Obtained results are of interest to electronic & energy industries, having a large potential to bring economic returns.


Title Nanostructured transition Metal Phosphides for Electrochemical Energy Storage
Reference UTAP-EXPL/CTE/0008/2017
Scientific Area Nanotechnologies
Funding € 99 865,00 plus matched funding at UT Austin
Leading Institution Laboratório Ibérico Internacional de Nanotecnologias (INL)
Participating Institutions The University of Austin at Texas (UT Austin)
Universidade de Aveiro (UA)
Duration 16 months
Begin date November 1, 2018
End date February 15, 2020
Keywords Transition metal phosphide, Nanostructure, Electrochemical energy Storage Battery

Main Highlights

  • Papers published in high-impact journals;
  • Training opportunities offered to postdoc researchers and pre-doctoral students;
  • Exchange visits.


  • 3 Published papers in peer-reviewed Journals and Conferences. 2 Jointly authored (PT-US);
  • 4 Doctoral students and 2 MSc. students involved in research work;
  • 2 Mobility exchanges supported;
  • 1 New funding application deriving from MEPHEES project;
  • 4 Awards granted to the Project’s PIs:

    Lifeng Liu (PI of the PT team) was selected in 2019 as “Emerging Investigator” by
    the journal “Chemical Communications” published by Royal Society of Chemistry, UK, for his contribution to transition metal phosphide studies;

    Prof. Guihua Yu (PI at UT Austin) has been awarded with two significant awards/honors in 2019, including election to Fellow of Institute of Physics (IOP) and being named as Young Innovator in Nano Energy by Springer Nature journal, Nano Research, for his outstanding contributions to developing novel nanostructured materials for energy storage and conversion. Prof. Yu is also ranked as one of top Highly Cited Researcher in Materials Science by Thomson Reuters in 2019.

Papers and Communications

  • N. Zhang, J. Y. Xu, B. Wei, J. J. Li, I. Amorim, R. Thomas, S. M. Thalluri, Z. C. Wang, W. Y. Zhou, S. S. Xie, Lifeng Liu, Mille-Crêpe-Like Metal Phosphide Nanocrystals/Carbon Nanotube Film Composites as High-Capacitance Negative Electrodes in Asymmetric Supercapacitors ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 2020, 3, 4580
  • N. Zhang, Y. F. Li, J. Y. Xu, J. J. Li, B. Wei, I. Amorim, R. Thomas, S. M. Thalluri, Y. Y. Liu, G. H. Yu, Lifeng Liu, High performance flexible solid- state asymmetric supercapacitors based on bi-metallic transition metal phosphide nanocrystals ACS Nano 2019 13, 10612
  • N. N. Wang, Z. C. Bai, Z. W. Fang, X. Zhang, X. Xu, Y. Du, Lifeng Liu, Shixue Dou, Guihua Yu, A general synthetic strategy for pomegranate-like transition metal phosphide@N-doped carbon nanostructures with high lithium storage capacity ACS Mater. Lett. 2019, 1, 265

Project Team

Lifeng Liu

Principal Investigator in Portugal

Guihua Yu

Principal Investigator in Austin