Taylor Grace

Taylor performed research on electroactive materials for electrode surfaces this summer…

Synthesis of Bispyridine Derivatives for Chemically Modified Electrodes; Taylor Grace, Dr. Thomas Guarr

Attachment of electroactive materials to an electrode surface can result in the formation of modified electrodes suitable for applications in displays, electrocatalytic devices, or organic batteries.  Pyridinium compounds are readily and reversibly reduced, and previous work has demonstrated that bispyridine species are especially stable in both their oxidized and reduced states.  The objective of this project is to prepare several different bispyridinium compounds that can be electrochemically polymerized or covalently attached to an electrode surface.  The resultant chemically modified electrodes will be characterized by spectroscopic and electrochemical methods.

Taylor Poster Session

Taylor is pursuing a degree in chemistry with a minor in biology at Western Michigan University.  We loved having her energy with us this summer and we wish her all the best when she returns to WMU.

James Wortman

James continued our insights into alternatives to platinum as an oxygen reduction catalyst…

Investigation of Metal(II) Tetradiphenylaminophthalocyanines for Oxygen Reduction Catalysis in Fuel Cells; James A. Wortman, Thomas F. Guarr

Catalytic oxygen reduction (OR) is an important reaction in fuel cell design.  Platinum has been used as an OR catalyst, but its high cost has made large-scale applications impractical.  The purpose of this study was to investigate metal(II) tetra(diphenylamino)phthalocyanine (MT4(dpa)Pc) complexes as potential cheap alternatives to platinum.  The obtained complexes were electropolymerized into thin films using cyclic voltammetry (CV).  These polymer films may possess improved OR capabilities due to the nature of the diphenylamine substituent.

6715 James Wortman poster

James is (another!) Chemical Engineering student from MSU.  He is part of the MSU Regional champion Chem-E-Car team and will join Brian and Mark at the Chem-E-Car competition in San Francisco this November.  Good luck to them and thank you to James for his hard work.

Brian Chiou

Brian helped us this summer by developing better prototypes for redox flow batteries.  His designs aided understanding of the reaction inside the battery cell.

Design of a Highly Efficient and Cost Competitive Organic Redox Flow Battery; Brian Chiou, Thomas F. Guarr

Renewable energy technology is growing rapidly.  However, renewable energy relies heavily on energy storage systems to balance fluctuating energy generation.  The high manufacturing cost and limited life cycle of current commercial battery technology inhibits large scale grid storage application.  This research project focuses on an organic flow battery with significantly lower manufacturing cost and minimal chemical degradation for longer cycle life.

6715 Brian Chiou and Tom Guarr poster 6715 Brian Chiou poster

Brian graduated this year with a Chemical Engineering degree from MSU.  He is presently working for LG here in Holland.  He is also continuing to further his research in the above subject.  Thanks for your work, Brian.

Devinda Pankaja Wijewardena

Many thanks to Devinda for spending his summer with us synthesizing Bispyridine compounds.

Synthesis of Linear Bispyridines and Bispyridinium Compounds for Energy Storage Applications; Devinda Wijewardena and Dr.  Thomas F. Guarr

Redox flow batteries store energy in electrolyte solutions that flow through the battery during charge and discharge cycles.  They offer a very inexpensive and scalable energy storage capability that can be utilized in grid applications.  Phenylene-bridged linear bispyridinium compounds possess useful electrochemical properties that could be used in redox flow batteries.  Current redox flow batteries use electrolytes with compounds containing elements such as vanadium and bromine, which are both expensive and toxic.  However, phenylene-bridged linear bispyridinium compounds could be synthesized organically through effective and efficient synthetic routes.  One synthetic route involves a Suzuki-Miyaura Coupling using 1,4-phenylenebisboronic acid and 4-bromo-2,6-dimethylpyridine as starting materials and a palladium catalyst.  Another route uses a Hantzsch pyridine synthesis and requires multiple steps.  However, it is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than the Suzuki-Miyaura coupling.  The bispyridine thus synthesized via either route was then alkylated to form the bispyridinium compound and characterized using LCMS, NMR, and cyclic voltammetry.

6715 Devinda Wijewardena poster

Devinda is a Chemical Engineering student at MSU from Sri Lanka.  He has returned to the other side of the earth for a visit before returning to school and we wish him another great year at MSU.

Mark Elinski

Mark joined our lab for the summer and made some important contributions to our understanding of the dynamics of the redox cell via Raman spectra.

The Novel Application of Raman Spectroscopy for Depth Profiling in Transparent Electrochromic Cells, Mark Elinski and Thomas Guarr

Electrochromic compounds exhibit intense color changes in redox reactions and have shown functionality in mirrors windows, and display devices.  Several electrochromic compounds have been synthesized, dissolved in solution, and injected into transparent electrochemical cells.  The objective of this project is to use Raman spectroscopy to measure the concentration of each compound in the cell as a function of cell depth.  To accomplish this, a confocal Raman microscope was used to obtain Raman spectra at small depth intervals between the anode and the cathode of the cell.  The reduced and oxidized forms of each material in the cell were also isolated, and their unique Raman spectra were measured.  The concentrations of these reduced and oxidized molecules at each depth in the cell were modeled from these isolated spectra and the composite spectrum at each depth.  This novel Raman depth profiling technique reveals that different electrochromic materials result in different concentration gradients in the cell, and surprisingly shows that even neutral compounds display a varying concentration throughout the depth of the cell.  This technique can further be applied to reaction monitoring in batteries and electrocatalytic systems.

6715 Mark Elinski poster

Mark is a Chemical Engineering major at Michigan State University.  He also plays in the Spartan Marching Band, so we will be looking for him on the football field at half time!

Jody Wycech, past intern and present Geochemistry Ph.D.


Jody Wycech checked in with us recently.  She completed an analytical chemistry internship at Michigan State University-Bioeconomy Institute in the summer of 2012, and is now a Geochemistry Ph.D. candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Jody reconstructs past ocean-climate conditions using the geochemistry of the calcite shells of marine microfossils (foraminifera). She specifically investigates how reactions on the seafloor, diagenesis, affect the shell chemistry and derived paleoclimate records using in situ techniques such as electron probe microanalysis and secondary ion mass spectrometry.

PETM Crystallite_v1

Secondary electron scanning electron microscopy image of a 55.5 million year old foraminiferal shell that lived in the upper water column attached to an inorganically precipitated calcite crystal formed after the shell’s deposition on the seafloor. The two mineral phases have distinct geochemical signatures, and can be separately analyzed with in situ techniques to more accurately reconstruct past ocean conditions.

Great to hear from you, Jody!