Assistant Professor Jovan Kamcev recently received a National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award to research and improve ion-exchange membranes. The NSF CAREER Program is a Foundation-wide activity that offers the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious awards in support of early-career faculty who have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.
“I am very excited to receive the CAREER award from the NSF. This award will enable us to perform cutting edge research on interesting and technologically relevant problems,” Kamcev said. “The overall goal of this project is to understand how the distribution of charge on the polymer backbone affects the transport properties of charged polymer membranes.”
Ion-exchange membranes are important materials for several electrochemical technologies that are used for energy generation, energy storage, and water purification.
The membranes allow certain ions to transport quickly and selectivity, but there is often a tradeoff between ion throughput and selectivity that limits performance of these technologies.
Interactions between the polymer and mobile ions play an important role in this limiting tradeoff, but such interactions are not well understood. The CAREER award will allow Kamcev to gain understanding and control the electrostatic interactions that cause these limitations, so the tradeoff can be broken.
“This study will significantly expand our toolkit for membrane design by introducing a variety of novel functionalities and potentially open new avenues for research in this field,” Kamcev said.
This project, in collaboration with U-M Museum of Natural History, will implement a science, technology, math and engineering (STEM) comprehensive summer research program for high school students from low socioeconomic backgrounds. The program includes hands on laboratory experience, a membrane science course, and presentation of the results at the Museum.
Kamcev joined Michigan Chemical Engineering as an assistant professor in the Fall of 2019. He earned a BS in Chemical and Molecular Engineering/Applied Math and Statistics from Stony Brook University in 2012. He then earned an MS and a PhD in Chemical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in 2016. During his time at U-M, Kamcev has also received the DOE Early Career Research Program Award and the NAMS Young Membrane Scientist Award.
The Kamcev Lab focuses on developing structure/property relationships to guide the design of next-generation polymeric materials (e.g., membranes and sorbents) for water treatment, energy generation, and energy storage applications.