PhD Journey: Shaun Gietman
Aug 5 2020
ACES PhD graduate Dr Liyu Jin (pictured) has taken up a postdoctoral research position at the prestigious Oxford University to further his research into battery performance and safety.
Where are you going?
I have recently started at Oxford as a postdoc, working to understand and develop materials that can increase the capacity of batteries, with much less chance of catching on fire. Life in Oxford is a great joy to a certain extent. You can take your time lingering on the corners of its ancient colleges, instead of being a one-day visitor, hopping-on-and-off and squeezing through crowds. But you pay high prices for the groceries and rent in a tourist town!
Why did you choose the ACES cab to get you there?
I am proud of being an ACES Ph.D. student and subsequently a postdoc for around a year. ACES provided a perfect platform that allowed me to exchange ideas and knowledge with fellow junior and senior researchers who are working on various topics on electrochemistry. Sure enough, the diversity of research at ACES broadened my horizon.
What was your ACES research about?
My ACES studies zeroed in on developing safe electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries (during my Ph.D.) and thermoelectrical cells (postdoc). An electrolyte is responsible for conducting ions between positive and negative terminals in an electrochemical device. My role was not only to engineer the materials but also (more importantly) characterising and understanding the fundamental properties that lead to performance improvement or battery failure.
What was the outcome of your research? Why is this important?
One of the outcomes can be regarded as a firm step towards the practical use of organic ionic plastic crystals (OIPCs) as electrolytes for much safer lithium batteries. Flammable solvent-based commercial electrolytes have been limiting the safety of billions of Li-ion cells in our smartphones, laptops, and now even cars. OIPCs are intrinsically stable both chemically and electrochemically. Through comprehensive characterisation and in-depth fundamental understanding of some OIPC materials, our team at Monash and Deakin demonstrated the first OIPC-based Li-ion cell with functional cell capacity in 2014.
What’s playing on the radio right now?
I don’t know the title but something quite energetic. I like it.