Tell me a little about yourself!
I am a second year PhD student in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering. I study how to design and understand electrode architectures for lithium-ion battery cathode materials to optimize their energy storage performance under the guidance of Prof. Veronica Augustyn. Post-graduation, I hope to use the skills I gained during my PhD to eventually work on R&D of close-to-market energy storage technologies. I’m also interested in learning how to develop and implement statewide and federal policies to facilitate the transition to renewable energy for key economic sectors. Outside of my research, I enjoy spending time outdoors hiking, camping, or biking, reading biographies, attempting to cook new spicy recipes, and dancing!
For my research I use the Verios SEM, both XRD instruments, and the Xradia micro X-ray CT instrument. All three instruments are relatively straightforward to use, provide the characterization data I need to understand my electrodes, and have helpful AIF staff members responsible for them. They have always been able to guide me in understanding the science behind the instruments and answer questions that come up during data analysis.
What have you been researching and how is it impacting the community?
I study how to make new lithium-ion electrode architectures that combine industrially-relevant transition metal oxide cathode materials with carbon nanotube foam substrates provided by the Bradford group in the College of Textiles. I am particularly interested in combining these materials to make composite electrodes with good energy and power densities using facile and consistent manufacturing techniques. Currently I am studying the use of aqueous electrodeposition to create an electrode consisting of aligned carbon nanotubes that are conformally coated by oxides in a porous foam structure. The aligned nanotubes ensure good electron conductivity throughout the electrode, and the porosity provides sufficient ionic conductivity in the electrolyte. In addition to studying improved electrode manufacturing techniques, we are starting to use x-ray tomography and computational techniques to understand relationships between processing conditions, electrode architecture, and electrochemical performance.
The most common manufacturing technique used to make industry-standard lithium ion electrodes is the slurry casting technique. This technique and resulting architecture faces issues with producing reproducible electrodes, mechanical degradation, incompatibility with thick coatings and with electrochemically active materials that react with the conversion and alloying mechanisms. My research provides insight into the electrode design strategies that could be used to eventually displace the slurry technique. I try to understand how to make electrodes via scalable manufacturing techniques that allow for control and reproducibility in the resulting architecture and its electrochemical properties. I try to understand how to make electrodes via scalable manufacturing techniques that allow for control and reproducibility in the resulting architecture and its electrochemical properties.
What have you learned from your experience at AIF?
I’ve learned how to independently utilize 3 different characterization techniques to assess the structure, composition, and morphology of my materials and critically analyze my data. I also learned fundamental principles of SEM and XRD during the short courses held by the AIF.
Through-thickness View of Composite Electrode Architecture
A micro X-ray computed tomography video showing cross sections through the thickness of an electrode consisting of molybdenum trioxide electrodeposited on a carbon nanotube foam scaffold. This data was collected using the Zeiss Xradia micro-CT instrument.
Best thing about AIF in 5 words or less?
Great characterization tools and people!
Is there a staff member at AIF that has helped you?
BB, Chuck, and Anton have all been really helpful!