Matthew S. Sigman, Distinguished Professor and Peter J. and Christine S. Stang Presidential Endowed Chair of Chemistry, is helping the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) develop highly efficient next-generation battery technologies for energy storage.
Sigman and U of U colleague Shelley Minteer, along with University of Michigan chemists, are participating in the Department of Energy’s Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, to develop a better type of battery architecture for grid energy storage called redox flow batteries.
Using a predictive model of molecules and their properties, the team has developed a charge-storing molecule that is 1,000 times more stable than current compounds. Their results were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
“The ultimate goal is to prepare grid-ready flow batteries that contain redox-active organic molecules,” says Sigman. “We are working on designing the organic molecules, identifying new membranes to separate the redox molecules, and defining prototypes.”
The new battery technology could potentially replace lead-acid or lithium ion batteries, which have many limitations.
Sigman’s research lab is supported by research grants from the Department of Energy, the Department of Defense, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and two pharmaceutical companies, Merck and Novartis.
Sigman currently has 11 graduate students, three undergraduates, eight postdocs and one research assistant professor working in his lab.
“We have about 20 active projects right now, from the development of new reactions with applications in the pharmaceutical industry, to developing new tools for the analysis of the structure of organic compounds as a function of their properties, and new work on batteries and fuel cells,” says Sigman.
He enjoys teaching classes as well. “I often draw inspiration while in the classroom. This is due to the impact chemistry has on society and the importance in conveying this to students,” says Sigman. He is currently teaching Chem 2320, a second semester organic chemisty course for undergraduates.
Sigman joined the U chemistry department in 1999. He was promoted to Professor in 2008 and was elected a Distinguished Professor in 2016.
He received the U of U Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award in 2011. This is the University’s highest recognition for research excellence and productivity among faculty.
In 2016, Sigman won the American Chemical Society award for Creative Work in Synthetic Organic Chemistry, “For his creative, seminal work in synthetic organic chemistry, especially his innovative contributions to the Wacker oxidation and Heck reaction.”