Electrochemical Energy and Ion Transport

The lithium-ion battery is a remarkable device. It is the first time humanity has access to a reusable box for storing and using energy. We work on the development of polymer electrolytes that enable the rapid transport of lithium ions between the battery electrodes. Our work encompasses materials design, synthesis, characterization, and performance evaluation in applications. We have developed microphase separated block copolymer electrolytes wherein one of the microphases is soft and ion-conducting, while the other is a rigid insulator. This design enables independent control over the electrical and mechanical properties of the electrolyte. We combine electrochemical characterization with advanced characterization methods such as synchrotron hard X-ray microtomography, X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, and atomic-scale cryogenic electron microscopy to determine the molecular underpinnings of our observations. While we mainly focus on fundamental studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals, we also publish patents when we perceive that our work may have direct societal impact. Based on our patents, group alumni have cofounded two battery start-up companies: Seeo (founded in 2007) and Blue Current (founded in 2014).

We are recruiting Berkeley first-year graduate students! Click here to read more about our current research projects. Click here for resources for first-year PhD projects!

The Balsara lab aims to foster a collaborative and inclusive environment where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We support diversity in our group and are welcoming of each other’s viewpoints and backgrounds. We acknowledge that our group has not done enough to address racial and social injustices in academia and society. We are committed to making science more accessible to all through outreach, self-education about anti-racism, and supporting the professional development of underrepresented minority students and early career researchers. Please join us in these efforts!

The Balsara Lab is located at the University of California, Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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Banner Image by Alexander Mueller, National Center for Electron Microscopy, Berkeley, CA

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