EE Seminar: Functional Polymeric Materials for Energy Storage Applications and Beyond

Presented by Natasha Shirshova, Durham University (UK)



Despite the widespread applications of polymeric materials, the quest for novel materials with specific properties is still ongoing. In my talk I will show examples, based on research I was involved in, of how porous polymeric materials could be used in energy storage devices (mainly), specifically as printable separators in batteries and matrix/electrolyte in structural/multifunctional supercapacitors. It is clear that development of materials with only improved performance is not sufficient anymore, as environmental impact of their manufacturing, usage and disposal has to be taken into consideration. That is why the use of natural based materials and low carbon foot print technologies (such as printing) receiving more attention. We are looking into feasibility of using “green”/bio-based epoxies based on natural oils as an alternative for commercially available petrochemical based epoxies in manufacturing of lightweight foams with high mechanical properties via mechanical frothing. Potentially, developed foams could be used as cores for composite sandwich structures.


Natasha Shirshova

Dr. Natasha Shirshova is a lecturer in engineering materials in the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences and a member of the Durham Energy Institute, Durham University. She has started her career as a PhD student (1996) at the Institute of Polymer Chemistry and Physics of Uzbek Academy of Sciences (Tashkent, Uzbekistan, completed 2001) working on radical terpolymerization, fiber forming processing and analysis of both terpolymers and fibers.

After spending three months at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (Golm, Germany) with DAAD Fellowship, in 2004 she received a Royal Society/NATO Postdoctoral Fellowship. She brought this fellowship on investigation of novel hyperbranched polymerisation systems to the Department of Chemical Engineering, Imperial College London, as a once in a lifetime opportunity to work with Prof. Dame Julia Higgins on the physics and chemistry of complex and highly branched polymer structures, which also included state-of-the-art polymer synthesis. After a year she was offered by Prof. A. Bismarck a postdoctoral research associate position. Her research was directed on the fundamental understanding and development of materials for energy applications, including energy generation and energy storage.

Her research interest is in functional polymers and polymeric materials for various applications, including porous polymers for energy storage applications and a feasibility study of using environmentally friendly and sustainable resources and processes for development of energy storage devices.

Host: Alan Seabaugh (