Plenary Session

Chemistry and Materials for Energy

Sunday, March 16, 2014, 3:00 – 5:00 p.m.


Dr. Jens K. Norkov

Dr. Jens K. Norskov

Leland T. Edwards Professor of Engineering,
Department of Chemical Engineering, Stanford University

Catalysis for sustainable energy

Essentially all sustainable energy systems rely on the energy influx from the sun. In order to store solar energy it is most conveniently transformed into a chemical form, a fuel. The key to provide an efficient transformation of energy to a chemical form is the availability of suitable catalysts, and we will need to find new catalysts for a number of processes if we are to successfully synthesize fuels from sunlight. Insight into the way the catalysts work at the molecular may prove essential to speed up the discovery process. The lecture will discuss some of the challenges to catalyst discovery, the associated challenges to science as well as some approaches to molecular level catalyst design. Specific examples will include the photo-electrochemical water splitting and carbon dioxide reduction reactions.

Bio: Jens Nørskov is professor of chemical engineering and photon science and director of the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis at Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory. Jens Nørskov received his PhD in theoretical physics at the University of Aarhus, Denmark in 1979. Following is PhD he was a research fellow, post doctoral researcher and staff scientist at several institutions including the Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics, IBM T. J. Watson Research Center and Haldor Topsøe. In 1987 he joined the Technical University of Denmark as professor of physics. In 2010 he moved to Stanford University and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  Jens Nørskov’s research aims at developing theoretical methods and concepts to understand and predict properties of materials. He is particularly interested in surface chemical properties, heterogeneous catalysis, (photo-)electro-catalysis, and applications in energy conversion. Jens Nørskov has received a number of awards and honors, most recently the Michel Boudart Award for the Advancement of Catalysis. He holds honorary doctorates at the Technical University of Eindhoven and at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and is a member of the Royal Danish Academy of Science and Letters and the Danish Academy of Engineering.


Héctor D. Abruña

Dr. Héctor D. Abruña

Emile M. Chamot Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology

Departments of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, and the Energy Materials Center and Center for Molecular Interfacing, Cornell University

Operando methods for characterization of fuel cell and battery materials

This presentation will deal with the development of operando methods for the study and characterization of fuel cell and battery materials. The presentation will begin with a brief overview of the methods employed. Particular emphasis will be placed on the use of X-ray diffraction (XRD) and X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS), transmission electron microscopy (TEM) under active potential control, confocal Raman and differential electrochemical mass spectrometry (DEMS). The utility of these methods will be illustrated by selected examples including conversion reactions of Mn3O4 as anode material for lithium ion batteries (LIBs), spectroscopic studies of Li/S batteries and the use of DEMS to characterize electrolyte systems for LIBs. The use of operando TEM will be illustrated by studies of fuel cell catalyst degradation and coalescence and lithiation/de-lithiation dynamics of LiFePO4via energy-filtered TEM. The presentation will conclude with an assessment of future directions.

Bio: Professor Abruña, the Emile M.Chamot Professor of Chemistry is Director of the Energy Materials Center at Cornell (emc2).  He completed his graduate studies with Royce W. Murray and Thomas J. Meyer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1980 and was a postdoctoral research associate with Allen J. Bard at the University of Texas at Austin. After a brief stay at the University of Puerto Rico, he went to Cornell in 1983.  He was Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology from 2004-2008.  Prof. Abruña has been the recipient of numerous awards including a Presidential Young Investigator Award, Sloan Fellowship, J. S. Guggenheim Fellowship and J. W. Fulbright Senior Fellow.  He is the recipient of the Electrochemistry Award for the American Chemical Society (2008), and the C.N. Reilley Award in Electrochemistry for 2007.  He was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2007, member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2007 and Fellow of the International Society of Electrochemistry in 2008.  He  recived the D. C. Grahame Award from the Electrochemical Society for 2009 and the Faraday Medal of the Royal Society for 2011, the Brian Conway Prize from the International Society of Electrochemistry for 2013 and most recently was named Fellow of the Electrochemical Society. Prof. Abruña is the co-author of 400 publications and has given over 500 invited lectures world-wide. Out of the 46 students that, to date, have obtained a Ph.D. under his direction, 12 have gone on to faculty positions.


Michael R. Wasielewski

Dr. Michael R. Wasielewski

Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry
Director, Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center, Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University

Molecular approaches to solar energy conversion

Natural photosynthesis is carried out by organized assemblies of photoreceptors and catalysts within proteins that provide specifically tailored environments to optimize solar energy conversion. The photoactive molecules used in artificial photosynthetic systems for solar fuels production and in organic photovoltaics (OPVs) for solar electricity generation require significant molecular order to achieve high performance. Artificial photosynthetic systems for solar fuels formation must be robust assemblies that collect light energy, separate charge, and transport charge to catalysts, while comparable systems for OPVs must transport electrons and holes across interfaces to electrodes. The design and synthesis of complex, covalent molecular systems comprising chromophores, electron donors, and electron acceptors, which mimic both the light-harvesting and the charge separation functions of photosynthetic proteins, have been demonstrated; yet, the development of analogous self-ordering and self-assembling components is still in its early stages. We are developing a variety of molecular building blocks that address the many common issues associated with molecular systems for solar fuels and electricity production.

Bio: Professor Wasielewski received his Bachelor of Science (1971) and Ph.D. (1975) degrees from the University of Chicago. Following his graduate work, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University. He then joined the scientific staff of Argonne National Laboratory, where he rose through the ranks to become Group Leader of the Molecular Photonics Group. In 1994, he joined the faculty of Northwestern University, where he is currently the Clare Hamilton Hall Professor of Chemistry. He served as Chair of the Chemistry Department at Northwestern from 2001-2004.  He is currently Executive Director of the Institute for Sustainability and Energy at Northwestern (ISEN), Director of the Argonne-Northwestern Solar Energy Research (ANSER) Center, which is a US-DOE Energy Frontier Research Center, and the Solar Fuels Institute, a global consortium of research centers. Professor Wasielewski's research focuses on light-driven charge generation and transport in molecules and supramolecular materials, artificial photosynthesis, molecular systems for solar fuels and electricity, molecular electronics, spin dynamics, spintronics, and time-resolved optical and EPR spectroscopy. His research has resulted in over 440 publications.  Professor Wasielewski was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1995, and has held numerous distinguished lectureships and fellowships. Among Professor Wasielewski’s recent awards are the 2013 RSC Environment Prize, the 2013 Humboldt Research Award, the 2012 Arthur C. Cope Scholar Award of the American Chemical Society, the 2008 Porter Medal for Photochemistry, the 2006 James Flack Norris Award in Physical Organic Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, and the 2004 Photochemistry Research Award of the Inter-American Photochemical Society.