Two-time NDnano undergrad fellow publishes research on polymer electrolytes for batteries

Dean Schaetzl in lab

While completing his degree in electrical engineering technology at Purdue University (South Bend), Dean Schaetzl was awarded two NDnano Undergraduate Research Fellowships (NURF) to support his research during the summers of 2011 and 2012. His research focused on solid polymer electrolytes for Lithium-ion batteries and was supervised by Prof. Susan Fullerton (NDnano, Department of Electrical Engineering). The results of his work were published this month in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C in a paper titled “Magnetic alignment of gamma (core) – alpha (shell) Fe2O3 [Iron oxide] nanorods in a solid polymer electrolyte for Li-ion batteries." Dean and his co-authors address the impact of nanorod alignment on the properties of a solid polymer electrolyte. The results show an unexpected correlation between polymer structure and ion transport, challenging the traditional approach to improving the performance of polymer electrolytes.

Dean Schaetzl polymer electrolyte

“I offered two research projects during the summer of 2011, and Dean chose the more difficult project,” explains Fullerton. “I am impressed with Dean’s commitment to see the project through to publication. He developed new methods to prepare and characterize polymer electrolytes, and had to repeat long, detailed experiments to demonstrate reproducibility.” 

After graduating from Purdue in 2013, Dean was hired by Underwriters Laboratory (UL), a safety science company headquartered in Northbrook, Ill., that tests, inspects and validates a wide range of products and processes. His first assignment with UL was in the Netherlands where he studied the EMV payment system – a global standard for chip-based payment cards. The systems and associated regulations have been widely used in Europe over the past decade and are now being adopted in the United States. 

“My NURF experience was truly amazing,” explains Schaetzl. “To be immersed amongst dedicated people of unsurpassed expertise is a humbling but empowering experience. Everyone is dedicated to your growth and success, both in NURF and beyond.”

“I learned the depth of understanding required for this level of research, and the precision of experiments required to make a contribution to the field. My NURF experience helped to lay an excellent foundation for my future endeavors.”

Dean’s research experience has expanded the way he looks at potential solutions to problems. “I learned that when a variable does not affect the system, this result can be just as interesting and informative as another result where a strong effect is measured. This is especially true when you ask questions about materials that have never been asked before.”

August 26, 2014