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Undergraduate Summer Research: Adam Kiolbassa

Adam Kiolbassa

Adam Kiolbassa, fourth year physics major, is interested in nuclear fusion, alternative energy sources, and energy efficiency. He said, “The continued consumption of energy via unsafe fuels and insufficient structures is one of the biggest problems in the world today. My career goal is to chip away at that.”

Kiolbassa’s summer research required skills in a variety of areas and it increased his exposure to his topics of interest. This summer, he worked in the lab of Carlo Segre, Duchossois Leadership Professor of Physics, on an offshoot of Segre’s nanoelectrofuel battery project. In a flow battery, a liquid electrolyte is pumped through a core that has a positive and negative electrode with a membrane in between, and the ion exchange between them generates energy. Flow batteries let you store the active materials separate from the battery. Nanoelectrofuel flow batteries use nanoparticles to carry the charge. The advantage of the nanoparticles is that they permit more energy density than other types of flow batteries. To recharge them, you can plug into the grid or replace the fuel with charged nanoelectrofuel, meaning there is no recharging time.

Segre suggested that based on his research interests, Kiolbassa might want to study the optimal reaction conditions to prepare nanoparticles of MnO2 by using a micro-mixing flow field in conjunction with characterization using synchrotron radiation. From this simple suggestion, Kiolbassa sought out references and developed the proposal on his own. Segre described Kiolbassa as “mature and a self-starter” and said this initiative demonstrated his motivation and desire to be involved in research.

“The continued consumption of energy via unsafe fuels and insufficient structures is one of the biggest problems in the world today. My career goal is to chip away at that.”

Last summer, Kiolbassa interned at the Illinois branch of Euclid Techlabs, working on a variety of materials science projects including 3D printing of ceramics and depositing of thin films by sputtering. Prior to the, he had an internship at E.ON. He is also a member of Sigma Pi Sigma Honors Society. After graduation, he plans to go to graduate school at either University of Chicago or University of Notre Dame.