People

Stuart B. Adler

Associate Professor
Chemical Engineering

Biography

Stu Adler and his research group seek to better understand the electrocatalytic properties of solids, and how these properties relate to electrochemical processes and devices. The broad motivation for his work is energy sustainability - electrocatalysts enable key technologies for energy conversion and storage, including fuel cells, solid-state electrolysis and photochemical devices, batteries, and gas separation membranes. His group employs cutting-edge transient and operando electrochemical diagnostics, in conjunction with detailed physical models, to better understand local properties and dynamics of electrocatalysts.

Dr. Adler received his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 1993 from the University of California, Berkeley. After a postdoc in the Department of Materials at Imperial College, he served as a staff scientist at Ceramatec, Inc. before rejoining academia in 1999. Professor Adler’s awards include a NSF-NATO postdoctoral Fellowship (1993), NSF Career Award (2001), Charles W. Tobias Young Investigator Award of the Electrochemical Society (2004), and UW Junior Faculty Innovator Award (2007).

Education

  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1993
  • M.S. in Chemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, 1989
  • B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering, University of Michigan, 1987

Previous appointments

  • Assistant Professor, Case Western Reserve University, 1999-2001
  • Senior Research Engineer, Ceramatec/Air Products, 1994-1998
  • NSF-NATO Postdoctoral Fellow, Imperial College London, 1993-1994

Research Statement

The Solid State Electrochemistry Lab (SSEL) seeks a deeper understanding of electrochemical reactions used in energy conversion and storage. Our work is part of a broader effort by our society to achieve energy and environmental sustainability. A key factor limiting this sustainability is our (current) inability to store energy from sustainable but intermittent sources such as wind and solar power at relevant scale. Electrochemical reactions provide a unique solution to this problem by allowing electricity to be converted to fuels, and back again, or by storing electrical energy within reversibly transformable materials. Relevant technologies informing and benefitting from our work include fuel cells, electrolysis devices, batteries, and solar energy conversion.

A common theme of our research is the use of transient voltage-current response (impedance and nonlinear impedance) to probe factors limiting electrode performance or causing electrode degradation. We often couple these measurements with operando techniques to probe more directly (or locally) what is happening in or around the electrode materials during a reaction. By measuring and modeling these responses as a function of frequency, we gain deeper insights about the physics and chemistry of the reaction, and which factors limit performance. More recently we have been extending these methods to entire systems (such as stack of fuel cells in a commercial fuel cell system), and the use of data science and machine learning to interpret measured responses in terms of physics, chemistry, and operational parameters.

Honors & awards

  • Junior Faculty Innovator Award, UW College of Engineering, 2007
  • Charles W. Tobias Young Investigator Award of the Electrochemical Society, 2004
  • NSF CAREER Award, Division of Materials Research, 2001-2006

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