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Materials Science Research Lecture

Wednesday, January 25, 2023
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Noyes 147 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)
Materials design for critical element separation
Chong Liu, Assistant Professor, Molecular Engineering, University of Chicago,


The development of renewable energy technologies and next-generation optoelectronic devices relies on the secured supply of critical elements (such as lithium and rare earth element). Traditional mining and separation methods are disruptive to the environment, consume large quantities of harsh chemicals, and are unable to access dilute resources due to low elemental selectivity. Therefore, the invention of new separation methods and the fundamental understanding of the separation processes are crucial to realizing sustainable mining while broadening minable resources. In this talk, I will first introduce a platform method, electrochemical intercalation, for selective ion separation using lithium extraction as an example. I will explain the different roles of major ions in the competition with lithium ion and discuss strategies to promote lithium intercalation during co-intercalation by materials design. In the second part, I will introduce how we construct solid state channels to probe the water and ion transport behavior in confinement.

More about the Speaker:

Chong Liu graduated from Fudan University with Chemistry major in 2009. She did her Ph.D. at Stanford Materials Science and Engineering during 2009-2015 and her postdoc in the Physics Department at Stanford University from 2015-2018. She joined the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering in 2018 as a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor. She is the recipient of DOE Early Career Award, MIT TR35 Award, and is currently the Thrust Lead of AMEWS EFRC Center. Liu Group's research focuses on the design and synthesis of materials and the development of electrochemical and optical tools to address the challenges in the water-energy nexus. Her group studies phenomena that span enormous length scales from molecular interaction to mass transport, aiming to understand and correlate the materials' microscopic properties to macroscopic performance.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Blankenship by email at [email protected].