Welcome to the home page of the Paul Braun Research Group at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Our group members perform research in the fields of materials chemistry, polymers, biomaterials, organic and inorganic self-assembly, electronic materials and photonics.

Paul V Braun – Google Scholar

In the News

Arghya Patra, Braun Lab Recipient of the Ross J. Martin Award

Arghya Patra has been named the 2023 recipient of the Ross J. Martin Award for outstanding research achievement by a graduate student. Professor Ross Martin served as a member of the faculty of the College of Engineering for 40 years, the last 26 of which he served as Associate Dean and Director of the Engineering Experiment Station. He was an extraordinary person, dedicated to the highest standards of achievement for the members of our college.  Congratulations, Arghya!

New Microbatteries Could Power Bug Sized Robots

  • Researchers have created new high-voltage microbattery design that could pave the way for even smaller batteries.
  • In their unique design of powerful microbatteries, the team developed novel packaging technology that used the positive and negative terminal current collectors as part of the packaging itself (rather than a separate entity).
  • Professor Braun explained, “We need powerful tiny batteries to unlock the full potential of microscale devices, by improving the electrode architectures and coming up with innovative battery designs.”

Read the full story by Brian Westenhaus: New Microbatteries Could Power Bug Sized Robots

Novel design helps develop powerful microbatteries

Translating electrochemical performance of large format batteries to microscale power sources has been a long-standing technological challenge, limiting the ability of batteries to power microdevices, microrobots and implantable medical devices. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers have created a high-voltage microbattery (> 9 V), with high-energy and -power density, unparalleled by any existing battery design.

Material Science and Engineering Professor Paul Braun (Grainger Distinguished Chair in Engineering, Materials Research Laboratory Director), Dr. Sungbong Kim (Postdoc, MatSE, current assistant professor at Korea Military Academy, co-first author), and Arghya Patra (Graduate Student, MatSE, MRL, co-first author) recently published their paper “Serially integrated high-voltage and high-power miniature batteries” in Cell Reports Physical Science.

Read the full story: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/976512
Related publication: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.xcrp.2022.101205

From the lab to the battery start-up

by Mitch Jacoby, c&en

What drives entrepreneurial scientists to take an idea discovered in the lab and turn it into a business, especially in areas where other companies have failed?

The transition doesn’t happen in a puff of magic or a single eureka moment. “These companies don’t just come out of the ether from one unexpected lab development. There are many steps along the way,” says Paul V. Braun, a materials scientist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), who cofounded Xerion Advanced Battery, where he serves as chief technology officer. The idea to launch a start-up may not sprout suddenly, but there are often decisive moments that drive the germination process.

Xerion developed electroplating technologies for depositing battery materials such as lithium cobalt oxide on a current collector (top) and for making highly porous electrodes (bottom).

For Xerion, which is located near Dayton, Ohio, one of those moments came when researchers discovered a valuable method for depositing battery materials on a metal current collector—an important step in making batteries. For SES, a spin-off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a major advance resulted from MIT researchers figuring out how to make a safe electrolyte for batteries that feature metallic lithium electrodes. And for Nanotech Energy, which grew out of advances made at the University of California, Los Angeles, one turning point was when scientists realized that their novel form of graphene was an outstanding electrode material.           

In each of these cases, the researchers recognized that their discoveries could be the start of something big. These companies have long moved past prototypes and early pilot-scale studies. They have partnered with large, well-known companies and have raised millions of dollars. If all goes well, their batteries may soon end up in electric vehicles and other types of brand-name consumer products.

Moving beyond an initial discovery requires a lot of confidence and a major investment of time, effort, and money. But that’s not enough to ensure that a company will do well. Timing is also critical. One of the keys to launching a successful start-up is anticipating an important need—such as powerful batteries to electrify transportation—long enough in advance to do the necessary R&D to win investor confidence in a company’s ability to compete in the market.

Read the full story: https://cen.acs.org/careers/entrepreneurship/lab-battery-start/100/i31

Braun Group Recent Publications
A. Patra, J. Davis III, S. Pidaparthy, M. H. Karigerasi, B. Zahiri, A.A. Kulkarni, M.A. Caple, D.P. Shoemaker, J.M. Zuo, P.V. Braun, Electrodeposition of atmosphere-sensitive ternary sodium transition metal oxide films for sodium-based electrochemical energy storage, PNAS, 118, 22, e2025044118 (2021). DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2025044118
J.G. Kang, H. Jang, J. Ma, Q. Yang, K. Hattar, Z. Diao, R.L. Yuan, J.M. Zuo, S. Sinha, D. Cahill, P. Braun, Ultralow thermal conductivity in nanoporous crystalline Fe3O4, Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 125, 12, 6897-6908 (2021). DOI 10.1021/acs.jpcc.1c00411
Kollarigowda and P.V. Braun, Direct and Divergent Solid-Phase Synthesis of Azobenzene and Spiropyran Derivatives, Journal of Organic Chemistry, 86, 6, 4391-4397 (2021). DOI: 10.1021/acs.joc.0c02375
S. Zeraati, S. Mirkhani, P. Sun, M. Naguib, P.V. Braun and U. Sundararaj, Improved Synthesis of Ti3C2Tx MXene Resulting in Exceptional Electrical Conductivity, High Synthesis Yield, and Enhanced Capacitance, Nanoscale, 13, 3572-3580 (2021). DOI: 10.1039/D0NR06671K
T. Yang, P.V. Braun, N. Miljkovic and W.P. King, Phase Change Material Heat Sink for Transient Cooling of High-Power Devices, Journal of Heat and Mass TransferPhase Change Material Heat Sink for Transient Cooling of High-Power Devices, Journal of Heat and Mass Transfer, 170, 121033 (2021). DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheatmasstransfer.2021.121033
Zheng, B. Chen, Y. Xu, N. Fritz, Y. Gurumukhi, J. Cook, M.N. Ates, N. Miljkovic and P.V. Braun, A Gaussian Process-Based Crack Pattern Modeling Approach for Battery Anode Materials Design, Journal of Electrochemical Energy Conversion and Storage, 18, 1, 011011 (2021). DOI: 10.1115/1.4046938
P. Sun, X. Li, J. Shao and P.V. Braun, High‐Performance Packaged 3D Lithium‐Ion Microbatteries Fabricated Using Imprint Lithography, Advanced Materials, 33, 1, 2006229 (2021). DOI: 10.1002/adma.202006229
C.R. Ocier, C.A. Richards, D.A. Bacon-Brown, Q. Ding, R. Kumar, T.J. Garcia, J. van de Groep, J.-H. Song, A.J. Cyphersmith, A. Rhode, A.N. Perry, A.J. Littlefield, J. Zhu, D. Xie, H. Gao, J.F. Messinger, M.L. Brongersma, K.C. Toussaint Jr., L.L. Goddard and P.V. Braun, Direct laser writing of volumetric gradient index lenses and waveguides, Light Science & Applications 9, 196 (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41377-020-00431-3