Assistant Professor Matthew McDowell Receives NSF Career Award

Assistant Professor Matthew McDowell has been honored with the 2017 National Science Foundation Early Career Development (CAREER) Award for his research on interfacial transformations in ceramic ion conductors for solid-state batteries. With research focusing on micro and nano materials with specific attention on energy storage applications, McDowell has developed highly sophisticated experimental techniques to study electrochemical transport in materials and at material interfaces.

 “I am very thankful to receive support through the NSF Career Award, as it will allow my research group to understand and tackle some of the fundamental issues holding back solid-state batteries,” said McDowell. Rechargeable solid-state batteries are attractive for electric vehicles and mobile applications because of their high energy density and their potential for improved safety compared to lithium-ion batteries. Despite the recent development of new ceramic materials for fast conduction of lithium ions, these battery systems have not been commercialized. A current major outstanding problem is that solid-state interfaces between the ion-conducting ceramics and other materials within the battery are unstable, which leads to poor battery lifetimes. McDowell’s research will use novel experimental techniques to understand interface degradation processes in real time and to determine how to protect these interfaces from degradation - a fundamental understanding critical for the creation of reliable, long-lasting solid-state batteries. His research includes an education initiative focusing on integrating materials and energy sciences in ways that are relevant to high school students’ daily lives, helping to prepare students from underrepresented groups for careers in science and engineering.