Chemistry graduate Annalise Maughan, Ph.D. receives prestigious Directors’ Postdoctoral Fellowship

Annalise Maughan, Ph.D., a recent graduate from Colorado State University’s Department of Chemistry, has been awarded with the prestigious Directors’ Postdoctoral Fellowship with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). This fellowship is designed to attract the next generation of exceptionally qualified scientists and engineers with outstanding talent and credentials in renewable energy research and related disciplines. Maughan will serve a two-year term, with a possible third-year renewal paid with program funding.

During the two-year Director’s Fellowship, Maughan will be working under the mentorship of Chunmei Ban, Ph.D. and Joseph Berry, Ph.D., to develop new materials design principles to enhance ion conduction in solid-state electrolyte materials for battery applications. In a battery, the electrolyte physically separates the two electrodes and allows ions to flow between the cathode and anode upon charging and discharging. Replacing the conventional liquid electrolyte with a solid material can improve battery safety, but ion conduction through solids is typically slow. Maughan’s proposed research will study the interactions between the mobile ions and the surrounding electrolyte material and use those interactions to enhance ionic conductivity. The design principles determined through this work have broader implications for sustainable energy as a whole, as ion conduction is an important aspect of renewable energy technologies.

Image of general schematic of a battery
Figure 1: A general schematic of a battery. Charged atoms (ions) move through the electrolyte between the two electrodes, while electrons move through the outer circuit as electricity.

Maughan expressed that “I’m thrilled and honored to have been selected for this fellowship! So much of technology relies upon functional materials, and I’m excited to apply my passion for solid-state materials chemistry to important questions in sustainable energy. This fellowship provides me with a unique post-doctoral experience, in that it affords me with the freedom and independence to develop my research visions from pen-and-paper scribbles to practical realization, which will be invaluable as I continue in my research career.”

As a graduate student, Maughan studied solid state materials chemistry in the Neilson Group. She focused on understanding fundamental structure-property relationships in a family of semiconducting materials called perovskites. Recently, these materials have shown promise for applications in low-cost solar cells, but the crystal-chemical origins of their performance is still an active area of research. Maughan’s doctoral research focused on understanding the relationships between crystal structure and properties such as electronic conductivity and light absorption to develop improved design principles for perovskite semiconductors.

Maughan received her bachelor’s degree at Northern Arizona University before joining Colorado State University in the fall of 2013.  She will be graduating this fall with her Ph.D. in Chemistry. Maughan will also be presented with the 2018 Graduate Student Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and/or Mentoring Award with the College of Natural Sciences at this year’s 2018 CNS Awards Ceremony and Professor Laureate Lecture on December 3. She has been recognized and commended for her contributions to the teaching mission of the College and University and for her dedication to teaching and mentoring of students. Many of her other accomplishments during her studies at CSU include receiving the 2017 Ludo Frevel Crystallography Award, an ACS Editor’s Choice Award, and the 2018 University Distinguished Professors Scholarship.