2014 Graduate Fellows / Graduate Fellows

Devon Mortensen

Graduate Student, Physics

Lab-based X-ray Emission Spectroscopy Studies of Electrical Energy Storage Materials: Building Bridges between PHYS and MSE Groups

While rechargeable batteries are a ubiquitous part of our society (cell phones, laptops, tablets, etc.), there are still a number of fundamental gaps in our understanding of their operation at the atomic level. If we hope to bring battery technology up to the level required for large-scale renewable energy and electric vehicle implementation, these gaps must be closed. My research focuses on x-ray spectroscopy, which is an essential tool in measuring the electronic structure of working batteries and battery materials. Unfortunately, the ability to perform these measurements has historically been hampered by the needed use of limited-access, world-class facilities. To this end, we are constructing a smaller-scale instrument to be owned and operated by the CEI. Having this instrument on campus will allow for unprecedented access to x-ray spectroscopic techniques, thus greatly speeding the development of next-generation battery materials. A first-generation version of this spectrometer has already been installed and is producing useful, high-quality data.

The Washington Research Foundation has provided a six-year gift of $6.74 million to support nine new faculty hires, six postdoctoral researchers and the creation of a new experimental manufacturing facility on campus that will help move discoveries from the laboratory to the marketplace. This investment in the CEI is truly transformational.”
– Daniel Schwartz, CEI Director
“Providing clean energy to the inhabitants of our planet is a major challenge to future generations. The University of Washington is to be congratulated for establishing an Institute where faculty and students can work together to tackle the difficult global challenge of energy sustainability.”
– Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, Emerita and Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Energy competition is opening up in a variety of ways, the push for carbon control will continue, and the rate of technology advancement is exponential. All the things I’ve seen at the CEI are just perfect for the way we see things going in energy. You guys are at the cutting edge. We’re counting on you.”
– Ronald Litzinger, President, Edison Energy
Since its founding the Clean Energy Institute has contributed more than $1.1 million toward the education of 66 STEM scholars and recruitment of 12 students through our fellowship programs.