Abstract: Electrochemical technologies promise to play a major role in mitigation of carbon emissions associated with energy and chemical production. In most electrochemical devices, high ion concentrations and large operating voltages induce strong ion-ion correlations, which drives electrolyte ions to collectively assemble into nanostructured networks. While ionic correlations are known to govern electrochemical properties in concentrated electrolytes, major questions persist surrounding how ion assembly influences mechanisms of ion transport and electron transfer. As fluids composed solely of ions, ionic liquids are ideal model systems for investigating how ion clustering can be tuned at the molecular level to promote selective redox ion transport and alter electrocatalytic activity. I will discuss three examples of how we are studying ionic liquids to explore the link between ionic clustering, ion transport, and electron transfer in electrochemical systems. I will first present our work aimed at linking nanoscale structures and dynamics of ionic liquid-solid interfaces to rates and selectivity of CO2 electrochemical reduction as a model system for illuminating how ionic assembly influences electrocatalysis. I will then highlight a microscopy-based approach to quantifying lithium-ion mobility in ionic liquids that opens the door to high throughput determination of redox ion mobility in nanostructured electrolytes. I will conclude by explaining how we are using entropic driving forces to design new ionic liquid-derived electrolytes that promise to bridge the gap between existing solid and liquid electrolytes for next-generation batteries. I will use all three examples to highlight how increased fundamental understanding of nanoscale ion assembly can provide transformative new avenues for designing advanced electrolytes and electrochemical devices.
Abstract: Professor Matthew Gebbie joined the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in fall 2019, where he is a Michael F. and Virginia H. Conway Assistant Professor. He received his B.S. in Chemical Engineering from NC State University in 2010 and Ph.D. in Materials from the UC, Santa Barbara in 2016, where he was a 2011–2015 Science and Engineering Fellow in the NSF Center for Nanotechnology in Society. He was then a 2016–2018 GLAM Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University before joining UW-Madison. Dr. Gebbie’s research addresses fundamental roadblocks at the intersection of soft matter, interface science, and electrochemistry to achieve sustainable interconversion of chemical and electrical energy. His current projects are centered around exploring new electrolyte design paradigms to enable safe, high-performance batteries and facilitate electrochemical recycling of waste CO2. Matt’s research has been recognized by a CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation, an Early Career Award from the Army Research Office, and a Doctoral New Investigator Grant from the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund.