Ion-Conducting Polymers for Electrochemical Applications


Ion-Conducting Polymers for Electrochemical Applications

Michael Hickner, Assistant Professor
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
The Pennsylvania State University


Polymers functionalized with high concentrations of fixed ionic charges are critical components of solid-state electrochemical systems such as fuel cells and electrolyzers. Two important considerations in the design of these materials are: 1) the morphology of their ionic domains, and 2) the motion of the absorbed water in the polymer structure. By manipulating the self-assembly of ion-rich domains in these polymers and by tuning the water-polymer interactions, the properties of these types of materials can be optimized for specific uses. New generations of solid polymer electrolytes are being developed that push the limits of ion conductivity in water-absorbing polymers. Although quantitative design parameters that connect the morphology and water binding to membrane transport properties are still not completely known, fundamental tools and insights gained from both model systems and practical membranes have allowed us to create a framework for understanding these systems and designing next-generation membranes for energy conversion and storage devices.
This talk will discuss the salient features of ion-containing polymers and provide insights into the mechanisms that control their transport properties such as ion conductivity and water permeability. Examples of new polymers targeted towards use in platinum-free fuel cells and redox flow batteries will be highlighted.


Speaker Background

Mike Hickner was raised predominantly in Upper Michigan. He received a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Michigan Tech in 1999 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2003. In graduate school he worked under the direction of James McGrath and also spent time in the fuel cell group at Los Alamos National Laboratory developing novel aromatic proton exchange membranes for both hydrogen and direct methanol fuel cells. Before joining the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State as an Assistant Professor in July 2007, he was a postdoc and subsequently became a staff member at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM where he worked on experimental investigations and modeling of liquid water transport in fuel cells and porous media, properties of ion-containing membranes, electrochemical reactors, and nanoporous membranes for water treatment applications. His eleven-member research group at Penn State is focused on the synthesis and properties of ion-containing polymers, measurement of water-polymer interactions using spectroscopic techniques, and the study of self- and directed assembly of polymeric nanostructures for fast transport. He has ongoing projects in new polymer synthesis, fuel cells, batteries, water treatment membranes, and photovoltaic materials. He is currently the Virginia S. and Philip L. Walker, Jr. Faculty Fellow in the Materials Science Department at Penn State and has received a Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award (2008), a 3M Non-tenured Faculty Grant (2009), Young Investigator Awards from ONR and ARO (2008), and a PECASE (2009). He has five US and international patents and over 55 peer-reviewed publications since 2001 that have been cited more than 2600 times.



Wednesday February 23


Michael's Restaurant at Shoreline Park Mountain View, CA  94043
Directions  Map


6 PM social hour
7 PM dinner
8 PM lecture





Early Registration - Up to 7 days in advance of deadline



Registration - Up to deadline



After deadline/walk-in (Availability NOT guaranteed)



Lecture-only is free.


We accept cash or checks, but are unable to accept payment by credit card at this time. Payment is taken at the door.  No-shows are responsible for full payment of registration fee.


Please register on the web page or contact:
Len Radzilowski

phone: 650-361-3264

Deadline for registration:

5PM, Wednesday February 15 for early registration discount
5PM, Wednesday February 22 for registration (or until venue has reached capacity.)

Dinner Selections:

Salmon filet with beurre blanc
Chicken portobello
Grilled vegetable brochette

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