Our research group makes use of synthetic, mechanistic and spectroscopic techniques to address one of the fundamental questions in renewable energy sciences: What are the guiding principles for the design of molecularly well-defined materials that serve as platforms for renewable energy capture, conversion and storage? Leveraging synthetic and molecular engineering techniques, we will design and synthesize a series of model systems (i.e., organometallic complexes and multifunctional organic materials) and evaluate their performance in various applications, so as to elucidate the materials structure-function relationships and to understand the basic molecular interactions underpinning renewable energy storage.
I. Organic Materials-Based Redox Flow Battery
Redox flow batteries (RFBs) have received increasing attention as a large-scale stationary energy storage technology due to their safety, cost efficiency and scalability. Enhancing energy density is one of the most pressing issues in the development of RFBs. We focus on the development of organic/polymeric materials with tunable redox properties as both anolyte and catholyte for improved overall battery performance. Synthetic tools will be used to prepare a series of organic/polymeric materials with variations on redox property and solubility. Electrochemical and mechanistic studies will then be performed to elucidate the structure-function relationships to provide information to design, synthesize and characterize the next generation of materials with improved performance.
II. Electrocatalysis for Chemical Activation and Conversion
It is imperative to identify and apply efficient electrocatalysts to accelerate reaction kinetics for chemical activation and conversion, and to improve product selectivity. We are interested in studying molecular catalysts for electrocatalytic chemical transformation. We use molecular engineering strategies to tailor the molecular catalysts by varying the primary, secondary, and tertiary functional spheres of the ligand scaffold, and the catalytic center.