Chibueze Amanchukwu receives ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship

Chibueze Amanchukwu, Neubauer Family Assistant Professor of Molecular Engineering, has received the 2021-2022 ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship, which supports faculty under 45 who are pursuing innovative electrochemical research in renewable energy.

Established in 2014 through a partnership between the Electrochemical Society (ECS) and the Toyota Research Institute of North America (TRI-NA), the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship awards winning applicants $50,000 in funding to pursue a proposed project.

“It is really exciting to receive the ECS Toyota Young Investigator Award,” said Amanchukwu. “It allows us to branch into new areas related to solid-state electrolytes that could be transformative for lithium batteries.”

Amanchukwu’s proposal is to design, synthesize, and characterize novel polymer electrolytes that can be used in solid-state lithium batteries. To date, solid-state lithium batteries have been elusive on an industrial scale, partly due to their inorganic solid-state electrolytes, which have poor mechanical properties. The goal of Amanchukwu’s polymer electrolytes is to overcome that shortfall through novel polymer discovery and synthesis.

Amanchukwu’s broader research focuses on energy storage and electrocatalytic devices. His team combines data science, first-principles calculations, chemical synthesis, and novel characterization tools to improve energy density, stability, and affordability in next-generation batteries and electrocatalytic devices.

With his work, Amanchukwu hopes to make electric vehicles more affordable and accelerate the reduction of global carbon emissions.

“Developing more resilient energy-dense batteries is essential to addressing climate change,” Amanchukwu said. “The world is moving very rapidly towards renewable energy, so it’s crucial that energy storage grows with it. That’s what this research is aimed at doing.”

Amanchukwu will use the $50,000 award to study how ions transport in novel polymer electrolytes and how they can enable efficient lithium metal cycling.