Seminar Schedule

A Materials-Science Approach to Designer Catalysts

Dr. Jin Suntivich

Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University

Friday, Jan. 17, 2020 @ 11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Mudd 826


Solar and wind are becoming economical, aided by their rapidly declining cost and increasing efficiencies. As renewable energy gains momentum, the use of electricity to synthesize fuels and high-value chemicals represents a critical next step for energy and materials sustainability. In this talk, I will outline the current approach for designing catalysts for these electrochemical reactions. Then, I will discuss the limitation of the current approach by presenting our test of its assumptions using high-fidelity well-defined-surface experiments. Our result supports a widely held view that intermediate stabilization can serve as a parameter for the catalyst design; however, we show that this variable alone is insufficient to describe the activity of highly active catalysts. I will discuss the implications of this result, including new insights on the mechanism of electrochemical transformations. Examples of how we can explore new phases of materials not accessible via thermochemical means as high-performance catalysts will also be discussed.  


Jin Suntivich is an assistant professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Cornell University. Jin received his B.A. in Integrated Science and B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University. Afterward, Jin went to obtain his Sc.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from MIT, where his research focused on finding a structure-property relation that controls the electrochemical activity of transition metal oxides and nanoparticles for fuel cells, electrolyzers, and metal-air batteries. Jin conducted his postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. There, he worked on understanding the light-matter interaction in titanium oxides and the role of non-equilibrium structure on the surface chemistry and the carrier lifetimes. His interest is in developing rational strategies for designing new materials for energy and environmental applications.

Material Characterizations and Designs for Energy Storage and Management

Dr. Yuan Yang

Associate Professor, Columbia University

Friday, Feb. 7, 2020 @ 11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Mudd 924


High-performance energy storage is critical to a sustainable future. Electrochemical energy storage, such as batteries, is a promising solution to vehicle electrification and the utilization of renewable energy. In energy storage, fundamental characterizations and designs of materials are crucial to understanding underlying mechanisms and creating new materials with high performance. In this talk I will present two examples in characterizing and designing materials. The first one is to use an emerging stimulated Raman scattering microscopy to visualize ion transport in electrolyte and electrode-electrolyte interactions. Such studies unveil the strong correlations between ion concentration and lithium dendrite growth. They also unveil effectiveness of different methods to passivate lithium dendrite growth in lithium batteries. The second example is to design solid electrolyte to enhance both safety and energy density of batteries.


Dr. Yuan Yang is currently an associate professor of materials science in the department of applied physics and applied mathematics at Columbia University. He received his B.S. in physics at Peking University in 2007, followed by the completion of his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering at Stanford University in 2012. After graduation, he spent three years in the department of mechanical engineering at MIT, until 2015. Dr. Yang’s research interests include advanced energy storage and thermal energy management. He won Young Innovator Award by Nano Research in 2019. He is a Scialog fellow on Advanced Energy Storage, and won RISE award at Columbia University in 2017.

From Alcatraz to Africa: Thoughts on launching energy tech companies from labs and dorm rooms

Darren Hammell

Executive VP of Business Development, Princeton Power Systems

Visiting Fellow, Princeton University

Friday, Feb. 14, 2020 @ 11:45 am - 12:45 pm

Mudd 826


Darren will talk about experiences founding a power electronics company in the early days of advanced energy storage, including finding the first customers, developing technology for a market need, transitioning from R&D into manufacturing industrial products, and eventually deploying projects across the world including advanced batteries, solar-plus-storage systems, and renewable island microgrids.


Mr. Hammell graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a BSE in Computer Science and co-founded Princeton Power Systems in 2001, after winning 1st-place in Princeton’s business plan competition. He served as President & CEO of Princeton Power for over 15 years, pioneering energy storage, renewable microgrid, and power electronics technologies. During his tenure, he oversaw the deployment of over 1,000 projects worth over $200MM on six continents, leading the global transition to distributed microgrids based on advanced energy storage.

In 2018, Mr. Hammell was appointed to the Princeton University faculty as the Gerhard R. Andlinger Visiting Fellow at the Andlinger Center for Energy and the Environment, where he developed a new curriculum on Energy Innovation and Entrepreneurship that was a top-rated course at the University in its first offering. Darren also helped launch several startup companies licensing University technology, and co-led successful grant proposals and programs with the National Science Foundation and other agencies.

Darren was named one of Red Herring’s ‘Young Moguls’ and is a frequent invited speaker at industry events. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Einstein's Alley Technology Collaborative and the Princeton Library Friends Foundation. Darren lives in Princeton with his wife and three daughters, enjoys skiing, running, music composition, and has high-exposure to all things Frozen.

1/18/19: Prof. Byungha Shin, KAIST

1/25/19: Nick Brady/Jack Davis, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

2/15/19: Prof. Daniel Esposito, Solar Fuels Engineering Lab at Columbia

3/1/19: Jake Russell/Anna Dorfi, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

3/15/19: Alex Couzis, CCNY/Urban Electric Power

4/26/19: Jon Vardner/Steven Denny, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

5/10/19: Qian Cheng/Brian Tackett, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

9/20/19: Prof. Daniel Steingart, Co-Director of CEEC

9/27/19: Aykut Aksit, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

                  Rebecca Ciez, Princeton postdoctoral fellow

10/11/19: Dr. Nongnuch Artrith, Research Scientist at Columbia

10/25/19: Prof. Lauren Marbella, The Marbella Lab at Columbia

11/1/19: Emily Hsu, Ph.D. Student at Columbia

                  Dr. Amir Zangiabadi, Director of Electron Microscopy Labs, CNI

11/22/19: Prof. Bruce Usher, Director of Tamer Center at Columbia

12/6/19: Dr. Kathy Ayers, VP of R&D at Proton Onsite / Nel Hydrogen