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NSERC Prizes 2017: Jeff Dahn

Department of Physics and Atmospheric Science
Dalhousie University


Summary

Video Name

NSERC Prizes 2017: Jeff Dahn

Author

NSERC Communications

Duration

3:52

Release Date

February 7, 2017

Description

Jeff Dahn is a pioneer in lithium-ion battery research and one of the worldís leading innovators in battery technology. The work accomplished by the Dahn Lab at Dalhousie University has had an impact on nearly every aspect of lithium-ion battery research. From conducting fundamental studies on all of the materials that are used in lithium-ion batteries, to co-inventing some of the positive-electrode materials used in lithium-ion cells for power tools, grid energy storage and electric vehicles, Dahnís research has contributed to making these long-lasting batteries part of our everyday lives. Dr. Dahn is the winner of NSERCís 2017 Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.

Transcript
Dr. Mario Pinto

Hello, ladies and gentlemen. Iím Dr. Mario Pinto, President of NSERC.

Iím at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and Iím joined by Dr. Jeff Dahn, this yearís winner of Canadaís top research prize, the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal. Congratulations, Jeff. This is a well-deserved honour. Through your work, youíve played a major role in bringing lithium-ion batteries to the masses. What is it about these batteries that has captivated your attention and imagination for so long?

Jeff Dahn

So itís a multidisciplinary problem: you need chemistry, physics, engineering, materials science. So thereís always something new to work on. Lithium-ion cells at the beginning might have lasted one or two years, and now lithium-ion batteries that are implanted into humans to power medical devices need to last more than 10 years. So thereís been a lot of improvements, and thatís really enabled products like the electric vehicle, for example.

Dr. Mario Pinto

Could you comment on the long game in scientific research?

Jeff Dahn

It takes a long time to acquire the infrastructure and the knowledge to operate at the state of the art in any field. NSERC has supported me extremely well throughout my career, and Iíve had two successive NSERC Industrial Research Chairs, one with 3M for 20 years and now one with Tesla. Tesla needed to establish either manufacturing or research facilities in Canada, and theyíve established an R&D centre in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, about 15 minutes from here. For me, itís really wonderful and, I think, important for Nova Scotia that we have this centre of excellence for Teslaís long-term battery development here. And weíre making good headway already.

Dr. Mario Pinto

Well, youíve been referred to recently as Teslaís secret weapon. What sort of impact do you hope to have on the future of electric vehicles?

Jeff Dahn

We have really three main goals in our research program with Tesla. And these are, first, to help lower the cost of lithium-ion batteries; second, to increase their lifetime from 10 years to 20 years and so on; and third, to increase their energy density so that fewer cells will be required per vehicle.

Dr. Mario Pinto

Could you comment more broadly on energy generation and storage for a sustainable future?

Jeff Dahn

I think itís imperative that we move to renewable energy as our primary energy source. And solar technology and wind technology are there, but the storage component is not there. To store electrical energy at scale, I think, is probably one of the top two or three problems facing humanity at this time. So the next generation of researchers and current researchers really have to step up to the plate and work on this problem.

Dr. Mario Pinto

What have been some of your proudest moments?

Jeff Dahn

I think my proudest moments are when graduate students and postdocs leave the group and go on to do really fascinating things on their own. Itís almost like your own children. When your own children succeed, you feel really proud.

Dr. Mario Pinto

Thereís nothing like investment in the next generation, is there?

Jeff Dahn

Itís really wonderful.

Dr. Mario Pinto

Jeff, thank you for taking the time to tell us a bit about your career, and congratulations on being named recipient of the NSERC Herzberg Gold Medal. We are proud of your many accomplishments and to count you as one of the family.

Jeff Dahn

Thank you very much, Mario. Itís a real honour.