Perla B Balbuena, Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University
"On the importance of assessing interfacial instabilities in materials design"
Interfaces are everywhere, and as materials become more complex, so do interfaces. To what extent we can understand interfacial phenomena, and therefore control them? Let’s think about an electrocatalytic reaction such as the oxygen evolution reaction on a metal-oxide catalytic surface, that is in contact with a complex (usually liquid) solution. There are all sort of mass and ion and charge transport through these interfaces that contribute to a highly “alive” system. Obviously, every catalytic cycle will modify the surface and the “active sites”. Similar phenomena happen at electrochemical interfaces such as those in batteries. In this talk I will discuss some ideas about changes happening during cycling of these interfaces and what does it mean for the main reaction(s) we are interested in following. I will describe our theoretical/computational efforts to understand interfacial phenomena beginning from the atomistic level, and how this new knowledge contributes to elucidate the macroscopic behavior and perhaps to rethink our designs.
Prof. Perla B. Balbuena obtained her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, MSc from the University of Pennsylvania, and BS from Universidad Tecnologica Nacional, Argentina, all in Chemical Engineering. From 1997 to 2004 she was Assistant Professor and then Associate Professor at the University of South Carolina. In 2004, she was appointed as full Professor of the Department of Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University, where she currently holds the Mike O’Connor Chair I. She has joint appointments as Professor of Materials Science and Engineering (since 2006) and Professor of Chemistry at Texas A&M (since 2016). Her research focuses on first-principles computational materials design, with main areas in catalysis, electrocatalysis, and battery materials. Dr. Balbuena has done pioneering work in computational analysis of lithium-ion batteries and fuel cell materials, and has also investigated materials for CO2 capture, electrocatalysis, and photocatalysis. Dr. Balbuena published 338 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals and has co-edited five books in her areas of specialization. Her work has been cited ~19,500 times (h-index 71) according to Google Scholar. Dr. Balbuena was elected fellow of AAAS (2013), AIChE (2020), and ECS (2022).