Oxygen generation and its transport and storage in the undersea environment must occur in inhospitable light, temperature and pressure conditions, and with the additional complications of power limitations and the need for agility. This project addresses the following critical fundamental science questions related to harvesting and managing oxygen in the undersea environment: What is the lowest overpotential for generating pure oxygen from seawater at high activity? How does one manage chemical and biological species in seawater that interfere with—or promote—oxygen generation and transport? What is the role of catalyst porosity on rates of oxygen generation and oxygen bubble nucleation and growth? Can we design membranes to efficiently separate oxygen from gases of similar size and shape? How much oxygen can be reversibly stored in a liquid or solid material at conditions relevant to the undersea environment?

The proposed research will fill these knowledge gaps by: (1) developing new learning algorithms and theory to guide the experimental design of new catalysts to produce pure oxygen selectively from seawater at high activity; (2) developing new fundamental structure-property relationships for polymeric and hybrid membranes to ensure catalyst self-healing, to manage ion transport, to minimize biofouling, and to remove microbes and pathogens from oxygen streams that can adversely affect human health; (3) determining how the size, shape, connectivity, and surface chemistry of nano- and macroscale pores affect the performance of water splitting catalysts and affect the nucleation, growth, movement, and collapse of oxygen bubbles; (4) designing polymers and materials with selectively tuned free volume architectures and facilitated transport so that oxygen may be separated and stored from other gases with similar sizes and shapes; and (5) creating new materials that reversibly store high densities of oxygen based on a detailed, molecular-level understanding of the oxygen binding and release in porous solids and liquids.

Research Groups


  1. Amphiphilic Polymer Thin Films with Enhanced Resistance to Bio lm Formation at the Solid–Liquid–Air Interface (Adv. Mater. Interfaces)
  2. Elucidating the Role of Fluorine Content on Gas Sorption Properties of Fluorinated Polyimides (ACS)
  3. Reduced Biofilm Formation at the Air–Liquid–Solid Interface via Introduction of Surfactants (ACS)
  4. Continuous Electrochemical Water Splitting from Natural Water Sources via Forward Osmosis (ACS)
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