Chemistry at Illinois' Michael Pence is one of two graduate students to present their research at the Beckman Institute Graduate Student Seminar in November 2022.
The hybrid seminar also featured graduate student Archit Vasan, Center for Biophysics and Quantitative Biology.
Michael Pence is a graduate student in the Department of Chemistry working under Professor Joaquín Rodríguez-López. Pence uses microfabricated devices to measure electrochemical dynamics, both at the electrode surface and in solution. He received his B.S. in chemistry from Indiana University, where he was first introduced to electrochemistry in the lab of Professor Dennis Peters.
In recent years, chemistry has seen a dramatic shift towards high-throughput, autonomous experimentation. This paradigm shows great promise for developing new molecules and materials for applications in energy storage and conversion, but electrochemical characterization presents a major bottleneck in developing a fully automated system. Conventional electrochemical characterization techniques struggle in a variety of experimental conditions and can often produce data that is difficult to analyze. New methodologies and techniques must be developed that address these issues.
To create automation-friendly techniques, Pence says we need to think small.
"Microscale electrodes can overcome challenges that traditional techniques would typically encounter and open the door for new and exciting measurements," he says. "I use microfabrication to create low-cost electrochemical devices that can fit in the palm of your hand but still have the same analytical capability as state-of-the-art electrochemical instrumentation. These microfabricated devices enable automated characterization of energy-storage molecules at high concentrations in non-aqueous electrolyte systems and can be coupled with solution-handling robots to facilitate high-throughput electrochemical experimentation."