SEMINAR: Ion-Conductive Polymers for Energy Conversion Devices
Chemist Research Scientist/Engineer, Energy Conversion Group, Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division
Ahmet Kusoglu is currently a research scientist in the Energy Conversion Group at Berkeley Lab, working on a fundamental understanding of polymeric materials for electrochemical devices and related electrochemical-mechanical phenomena for energy applications. Dr. Kusoglu holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering, the latter of which he received from University of Delaware, where he studied the mechanical characterization and durability of ionomer membranes and earned a graduate fellowship award. In 2010, he joined Berkeley Lab as a chemist post-doctoral fellow to study membrane transport and durability in fuel cells. His research at Berkeley Lab has focused on modeling and experimental characterization of ion-containing polymers, thin films and their interfaces in an effort to understand and improve their functionalities in various electrochemical energy devices (e.g., fuel cells, flow batteries and solar-fuel generators).
Dr. Kusoglu has published over 35 peer-reviewed journal publications (20 as first author) and a book chapter on fuel-cell membranes. He has been invited to present his work on durability and structure/property characterization of ionomers at various meetings, including the Electrochemical Society, American Chemical Society, Golden Gate Polymer Forum, and Gordon Research Conference. Dr. Kusoglu also taught Polymeric Materials course in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at UC Berkeley. He is the recipient of 2016 Supramaniam Srinivasan Young Investigator Award of the Energy Technology Division of the Electrochemical Society. His current research involves characterization and modeling of degradation and failure mechanisms, transport phenomena, and structure/function/performance relationships in ion-conducting polymers, functional composites and thin films as well as structural investigations of soft matter through advanced X-ray techniques at the Advanced Light Source (ALS).
Research activities and interests in electrochemical energy-storage and conversion devices (e.g., fuel cells, solar-fuel generators, batteries, etc.) have been continuously increasing due to their great potential to provide clean and renewable energy technologies for stationary, transportation, and solid-state applications. Common to all these devices is the electrolyte/separator, which is an ion-conductive polymer (ionomer), providing key roles such as ion/solvent transport and gas/reactant separation. For the desired new clean-energy paradigm, sustainable performance of electrochemical devices requires optimized ionomer functionalities with a mechanically robust matrix. However, improving the transport properties usually undermines the mechanical stability and separator functionality. This requires an understanding of how the ionomer’s transport and mechanical properties are interrelated through the interactions between morphology, electrochemical state, hydration and deformation. In such a complex structure, it becomes critical, yet challenging, to balance the mechanical properties for stability and the chemical properties for high performance. In this talk, our research activities on state-of-the-art ionomers’ structure/property relationship and morphological characterization will be highlighted to provide insight into optimization of their functionalities and chemical-mechanical durability. Structure/property relationship of ionomers is investigated based on their multi-scale characterization via synchrotron X-ray techniques at the Advanced Light Source (ALS), and then modeled using mechanistic approaches. These correlations are also examined in the nanometer-thick film regime to study the polymer interfaces in the electrode structures. The results will be discussed to develop a holistic view of the ion-conductive polymers within the context of performance and durability of polymer-electrolyte fuel-cells, but also to explore new avenues for tuning and exploiting chemical-mechanical interactions for electro-active polymers as well as next-generation energy and environmental technologies.