Professor: Héctor Abruña
Project Description: Organic active materials for electrical energy storage: The performance of current electrochemical energy storage systems (EESS) is often cathode limited due to the large capacity imbalance between the cathode and anode (e.g. 140 mAhg-1 and 372 mAhg-1 respectively for electrodes in (cathode) LiCoO2-LiC6 batteries (anode)). The energy density of EESS can be dramatically improved by developing cathode materials with higher capacities and reduction potentials. (Recall that energy density is the product of capacity times voltage.) Redox active organic compounds are promising cathode materials due to their low-weight, tunability, and ability to undergo multiple redox processes. The Abruña research group investigates organic cathode materials by initially designing and computationally screening compounds to identify potential hits. These target molecules are synthesized and coupled to polymers to mitigate dissolution and conductivity issues. The cathode materials are characterized extensively by electrochemical techniques such as cyclic voltammetry (CV), potential step chronoamperometry, rotating disk electrode (RDE), electrochemical quartz crystal microbalance (EQCM), as well as spectroscopy (e.g. UV-Vis, Raman, X-ray). The materials are also tested under practical device conditions in coin cells under varying charge/discharge rates. Each part of the research loop provides valuable feedback to improve the performance of the cathode materials, specifically and electrochemical energy storage devices, in general.