(Feb 22, 2022) Prof. Lou Madsen has received a NSF “Special Creativity Award” for his work to uncover new phenomena in polymer-based solid-state electrolytes called molecular ionic composites or MICs.  This unsolicited award includes $300k in funding for two years, extending Madsen’s existing NSF-Polymers grant entitled “Multi-Scale Self-Assembled Structure and Properties in Polymeric Molecular Composites”.  The Madsen Group discovered these highly tunable electrolytes in 2015. 

MICs consist of a highly charged and rigid-backbone polymer (essentially sulfonated Kevlar) combined with ionic fluids, and these materials are completely non-flammable.  Lithium and sodium ions can easily be incorporated into MIC electrolytes, enabling their use in safe batteries with high energy density.  So far, Madsen’s group has made lithium batteries that operate from room temperature up to 150°C and can cycle for several hundred hours.  This NSF Award provides funds so that the Madsen Group can (1) uncover the fundamental mechanisms that drive MIC self-assembly, (2) learn about structural features in MICs from molecular to micron scales, and (3) reveal the phenomena that link material composition, ion transport, multi-scale structure, and bulk mechanical properties.