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Shirley Meng - UC San Diego. La Jolla, CA, US

Shirley Meng Shirley Meng

Professor | UC San Diego


Shirley Meng researches better batteries through nano-engineering








Meng received her Ph.D. in advance materials for micro and nano systems from the Singapore-MIT Alliance in 2005, after which she worked as a postdoc research fellow and became a research scientist at MIT. Meng currently holds the Zable Endowed Chair Professor in Energy Technologies and is professor of nano engineering and materials science at UC San Diego. She is the founding director of Sustainable Power and Energy Center. Meng received the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award in 2011, UC San Diego's Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Collaboratories Award in 2013, Science Award in Electrochemistry by BASF and Volkswagen in 2014, C.W. Tobias Young Investigator Award of the Electrochemical Society (2016), IUMRS-Singapore Young Scientist Research Award (2017), International Coalition for Energy Storage and Innovation (ICESI) Inaugural Young Career Award (2018), American Chemical Society ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces Young Investigator Award (2018) and Finalist for the Blavatnik National Award (2018). Her research group – Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion (LESC) – focuses on functional nano and micro-scale materials for energy storage and conversion. The more recent programs include the design, synthesis, processing, and operando characterization of energy storage materials in advanced rechargeable batteries; new intercalation materials for sodium ion batteries; and advanced flow batteries for grids large scale storage. Meng is the author and co-author of more than 160 peer-reviewed journal articles, 1 book chapter and 6 patents. She serves on the executive committee for battery division at the Electrochemical Society and she is the technical editor for Journal of Power Sources.

Areas of Expertise (6)

Batteries for electric vehicles

Energy Storage and Conservation


Nano Engineering

Nano and Micro Scale Materials

Rechargeable batteries

Accomplishments (6)

UCSD Chancellor’s Interdisciplinary Collaboratories Award (professional)


NSF CAREER Award (professional)


Early Career Faculty Travel Award (The Electrochemical Society) (professional)


UC San Diego Zable Endowed Chair in Energy Technologies (professional)


Faraday Medal from Royal Society of Chemistry (professional)


UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Shirley Meng has earned the 2020 Faraday Medal from the Royal Society of Chemistry. Meng is a leader in materials characterization and synthesis, including development of novel battery technologies that are driving a low-carbon, more sustainable future.

Inaugural director of the UC San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery and Design (professional)


Shirley Meng is the inaugural director of the UC San Diego Institute for Materials Discovery and Design

Education (2)

Singapore-MIT Alliance, National University of Singapore: Ph.D. 2005

Nanyang Technological University, Singapore: B.S., Materials Science & Engineering 2001

Affiliations (2)

  • Associate Editor –NPG Asia Materials (IF 9.0)
  • Member – Ionics (IF 1.7) Journal of Power Sources (IF 5.2)

Languages (2)

  • Engish
  • Chinese

Media Appearances (8)

Batteries of the future made with salt - Science Nation

NSF  online


UC San Diego materials scientist and nanoengineering professor Shirley Meng aims to clear hurdles to development of sodium-based rechargeable batteries

Running out of "juice," finding a place to charge up, borrowing a charger, waiting for the charge--it's a familiar ritual for cell phone owners, but materials scientist Shirley Meng of the University of California, San Diego, wants us to raise our expectations for the future.

She envisions cheaper, faster, more powerful batteries, but these batteries would be made with sodium, not lithium. Sodium and other elements that make a sodium batteries work are more abundant than the lithium and cobalt used in typical rechargeable batteries. But, few advances have been made with sodium battery technology and there's no infrastructure in place to help scientists make great strides, at least not yet.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Meng and her team, including doctoral graduate student Hayley Hirsh, are tackling those challenges to help set the stage for sodium battery technology that is cost effective for utilities, as well as consumers. The Ceramics Program within the Division of Materials Research at NSF supports research, such as Meng's, that is addressing several outstanding issues, including safety, storage capacity and retention.

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What's causing the voltage fade in lithium-rich NMC cathode materials?



"Our paper is mainly about unlocking the mystery of the dislocations that cause voltage fade in Lithium-rich NMCs. We don't have a scalable solution yet to solving the voltage fade problem in Lithium-rich NMCs, but we are making progress," said UC San Diego nanoengineering professor Shirley Meng. She and UC San Diego Physics professor Oleg Shpyrko are the senior authors on the new Nature Energy paper...

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High-Tech Battery Research Comes With Ethical Dilemmas



When you think about battery research, ethical issues may not be the first thing to come to mind. But scientists who work with batteries know better.

“Some of the materials used in the batteries, like cobalt, have a lot of child labor issues,” said Shirley Meng, a nanoengineering professor at UC San Diego, referring to the Congo's yearslong practice of using children to mine cobalt. “In cell phones, it is the key element. In electric cars, we’ve been able to reduce it a lot. That was my Ph.D. work, on replacing cobalt. But replacements have lower density, so they can store less energy.”

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UC San Diego Researchers Build Batteries For Extremely Cold Weather



Shirley Meng leads the UC San Diego lab where the work was done.

She said the batteries have two important properties. The batteries can work at much colder temperatures and can shut themselves down if the battery starts to overheat...

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Electrolytes made from liquefied gas enable batteries to run at ultra-low temperatures



"Deep de-carbonization hinges on the breakthroughs in energy storage technologies. Better batteries are needed to make electric cars with improved performance-to-cost ratios. And once the temperature range for batteries, ultra-capacitors and their hybrids is widened, these electrochemical energy storage technologies can be adopted in many more emerging markets. This work shows a promising pathway and I think the success of this unconventional approach can inspire more scientists and researchers to explore the unknown territories in this research area," said Shirley Meng, a nanoengineering professor at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and the study's senior author. Meng leads the Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion and is the director of the Sustainable Power and Energy Center, both at UC San Diego...

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Audio conversation about sustainable power

Electrochemical Society (ECS)  radio

Wide ranging conversation with Shirley Meng about sustainable power.

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UC San Diego receives award from Energy Department for battery research in advanced vehicle technologies

UC San Diego  online


The project is aimed at developing cobalt-free cathode materials for next-generation lithium-ion batteries.

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Pathways toward realizing the promise of all-solid-state batteries

Jacobs School of Engineering  online


When it comes to batteries, there are always areas for improvement: the race is on to develop batteries that are cheaper, safer, longer lasting, more energy dense, and easily recyclable.

In a review article published in the March 2020 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, nanoengineers at the University of California San Diego led by Shirley Meng offer a research road map that includes four challenges that need to be addressed in order to advance a promising class of batteries—all-solid-state batteries—to commercialization. This article summarizes the team’s work to tackle these challenges over the past three years, which have been reported in several peer-reviewed articles published in various journals.

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Research Focus (5)

Better batteries for a net-zero-carbon economy

Shirley Meng is a world-leading battery researcher. She runs a lab that devises better ways to understand how batteries function, often in real time, from the nano-scale to the system level. She is focused on research that will improve the battery systems that are crucial for moving to a net-zero-carbon economy that is needed to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

First principles computation combined with experimental work

Combining first principles computation with experiments to pre-screen and design new high energy high power electrode materials – Meng’s Ph.D. work was the first of this kind and was awarded the prestigious MRS Graduate Student Award.

SEM microscopy for studying batteries

Pioneering investigations into the ion transport, phase transformations and surface/interface stability in lithium and sodium intercalation compounds for electrochemical energy storage with aberration corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy with electron energy loss spectroscopy (a-STEM/EELS)

Characterization of battery materials

Developed advanced neutron-based characterization techniques of electrode materials, including in-situ measurements of oxygen evolutions in high voltage cathode materials.

Nano-battery fabrication

Developed nano battery fabrication with Focused Ion Beam (FIB)/SEM and in situ biasing and monitoring of solid/solid electrode electrolyte interfaces during electrochemical processes.

Articles (6)

Layered SnS2‐Reduced Graphene Oxide Composite – A High‐Capacity, High‐Rate, and Long‐Cycle Life Sodium‐Ion Battery Anode Material Advanced materials

Baihua Qu, Chuze Ma, Ge Ji, Chaohe Xu, Jing Xu, Ying Shirley Meng, Taihong Wang, Jim Yang Lee


A layered SnS2‐reduced graphene oxide (SnS2‐RGO) composite is prepared by a facile hydrothermal route and evaluated as an anode material for sodium‐ion batteries (NIBs). The measured electrochemical properties are a high charge specific capacity (630 mAh g−1 at 0.2 A g−1) coupled to a good rate performance (544 mAh g−1 at 2 A g−1) and long cycle‐life (500 mAh g−1 at 1 A g−1 for 400 cycles)...

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Chemical composition mapping with nanometre resolution by soft X-ray microscopy Nature Photonics

David A Shapiro, Young-Sang Yu, Tolek Tyliszczak, Jordi Cabana, Rich Celestre, Weilun Chao, Konstantin Kaznatcheev, AL David Kilcoyne, Filipe Maia, Stefano Marchesini, Y Shirley Meng, Tony Warwick, Lee Lisheng Yang, Howard A Padmore


X-ray microscopy is powerful in that it can probe large volumes of material at high spatial resolution with exquisite chemical, electronic and bond orientation contrast1,2,3,4,5. The development of diffraction-based methods such as ptychography has, in principle, removed the resolution limit imposed by the characteristics of the X-ray optics6,7,8,9,10. Here, using soft X-ray ptychography, we demonstrate the highest-resolution X-ray microscopy ever achieved by imaging 5 nm structures...

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Identifying the Critical Role of Li Substitution in P2–Nax[LiyNizMn1–y–z]O2 (0 < x, y, z < 1) Intercalation Cathode Materials for High-Energy Na-Ion Batteries Chemistry of Materials

Jing Xu, Dae Hoe Lee, Raphaële J Clément, Xiqian Yu, Michal Leskes, Andrew J Pell, Guido Pintacuda, Xiao-Qing Yang, Clare P Grey, Ying Shirley Meng


Li-substituted layered P2–Na0.80[Li0.12Ni0.22Mn0.66]O2 is investigated as an advanced cathode material for Na-ion batteries. Both neutron diffraction and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy are used to elucidate the local structure, and they reveal that most of the Li ions are located in transition metal (TM) sites, preferably surrounded by Mn ions. To characterize structural changes occurring upon electrochemical cycling, in situ synchrotron X-ray diffraction is conducted.

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Identifying surface structural changes in layered Li-excess nickel manganese oxides in high voltage lithium ion batteries: A joint experimental and theoretical study Energy & Environmental Science

Bo Xu, Christopher R Fell, Miaofang Chi, Ying Shirley Meng


High voltage cathode materials Li-excess layered oxide compounds Li[NixLi1/3−2x/3Mn2/3−x/3]O2 (0 < x < 1/2) are investigated in a joint study combining both computational and experimental methods. The bulk and surface structures of pristine and cycled samples of Li[Ni1/5Li1/5Mn3/5]O2 are characterized by synchrotron X-Ray diffraction together with aberration corrected Scanning Transmission Electron Microscopy (a-S/TEM). Electron Energy Loss Spectroscopy (EELS) is carried out to investigate the surface changes of the samples before/after electrochemical cycling. Combining first principles computational investigation with our experimental observations, a detailed lithium de-intercalation mechanism is proposed for this family of Li-excess layered oxides. The most striking characteristics in these high voltage high energy density cathode materials are 1) formation of tetrahedral lithium ions at voltage less than 4.45 V and 2) the transition metal (TM) ions migration leading to phase transformation on the surface of the materials. We show clear evidence of a new spinel-like solid phase formed on the surface of the electrode materials after high-voltage cycling. It is proposed that such surface phase transformation is one of the factors contributing to the first cycle irreversible capacity and the main reason for the intrinsic poor rate capability of these materials.

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Electrodes with high power and high capacity for rechargeable lithium batteries Science

Kisuk Kang, Ying Shirley Meng, Julien Bréger, Clare P Grey, Gerbrand Ceder


New applications such as hybrid electric vehicles and power backup require rechargeable batteries that combine high energy density with high charge and discharge rate capability. Using ab initio computational modeling, we identified useful strategies to design higher rate battery electrodes and tested them on lithium nickel manganese oxide [Li(Ni0.5Mn0.5)O2], a safe, inexpensive material that has been thought to have poor intrinsic rate capability. By modifying its crystal structure, we obtained unexpectedly high rate-capability, considerably better than lithium cobalt oxide (LiCoO2), the current battery electrode material of choice.

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Liquefied gas electrolytes for electrochemical energy storage devices Science


Solid and liquid electrolytes allow for charges or ions to move while keeping anodes and cathodes separate. Separation prevents short circuits from occurring in energy storage devices. Rustomji et al. show that separation can also be achieved by using fluorinated hydrocarbons that are liquefied under pressure. The electrolytes show excellent stability in both batteries and capacitors, particularly at low temperatures.

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