Energy consumption is one of the barometers of economic and human well-being and the equitable development of humankind requires sustainable energy equity. Achieving this overarching goal requires us to address the intermittency of ecologically non-disruptive renewable energy technologies (solar and wind), decarbonize the transportation sector, and find alternative chemical pathways for large scale, energy intensive industrial processes. I will holistically address these key challenges by leveraging my training and experience in multi-scale theoretical and experimental investigations of electrochemical systems to develop, scale-up and commercialize next generation electrochemical solutions.
I will examine the fundamentals of reaction kinetics, catalysis and electrolyte mediated interfacial processes in electrochemical devices. A suite of electroanalytical and spectroscopic (in-situ and ex-situ) techniques will be deployed to interrogate the transport and reaction kinetics on the electrocatalyst and the electrocatalyst-electrolyte interface over the course of charge transfer processes. Developments in electrochemical engineering have focused on electrocatalysis and new actives chemistry to advance the state-of-the-art while the electrolyte is typically viewed in the context of ionic transport with conductivity (or transference number) being the key selection criteria. This approach fails to take full advantage of the different solvation properties of non-aqueous solvents used in high-voltage devices. I have shown that judicious selection of the solvent and salt can control the nature of the reaction (homogenous vs. heterogenous), effectiveness of the catalyst the reaction pathway and the rate of the reaction itself. Thus, controlling solvation directed interfacial processes will be a key focus of my research and the enabler for the electrochemical device engineering that I will pursue.