Dr Tadhg Kennedy is a Lecturer in Environmental Technology and PI in the Department of Chemical Sciences and Bernal Institute in the University of Limerick. Dr Kennedy is an expert in the development of nanostructured materials for Li-ion and Na-ion batteries. His specific research interests lie in the development of nanostructured alloying anode materials. Dr Kennedy has been successful in securing >€2.4M from national, international and industry sources as either PI or co-applicant in the last 3 years. He is coordinator of the TRIDENT project, which has received €3.65 million in funding from the Irish Government through the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund. The goal of the project is to develop a low-cost, high-performance sodium-ion smart battery system for residential energy storage. He is also PI on a number of other battery related projects including a grant from the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland for low-cost battery development for grid-scale storage of intermittent renewable energy. Dr Kennedy’s other research interests lie in the development of polymer nanocomposites with enhanced electrical properties. He also is actively researching the development of a nanostructured biosensor for detection of viral pathogens.
Dr Marina Moraes Leite – Postdoctoral Researcher
Marina received her education in Chemistry at the University of São Paulo (Brazil). As an undergrad researcher and later as a master candidate, she worked with different methods for synthesis of ceramic materials and their characterization. Her PhD thesis was on the study of sodium titanate nanomaterials produced by an alkaline hydrothermal method. These materials were then applied as negative electrodes in sodium-ion batteries during Marina’s first postdoctoral fellowship. Since then, electrochemistry and battery research have become her main research interest. She joined Dr Tadhg Kennedy’s group to work in the TRIDENT project to develop a sustainable sodium-ion battery for grid applications.
Dr Chandra Sekhar – Postdoctoral Researcher
Chandra received his Bachelor’s degree from Sri Krishnadevaraya University, India, and his Master’s degree from the Department of Physics, Sri Venkateswara University, India. In 2020, he obtained a Ph.D. degree from Kyung Hee University (Global Campus), Republic of Korea, in the development of nanomaterials for energy storage applications. During his Ph.D., he focussed on the development of flexible electrodes and versatile functional nanomaterials for both Supercaps and Li-ion battery applications. He, then, started as a Postdoc in the same lab and worked on the development of catalytically-active nanomaterials for water splitting applications. He is presently working as a postdoc in Dr. Tadhg Kennedy’s group at the University of Limerick, Ireland on the TRIDENT project to develop a grid-ready, sustainable sodium-ion smart battery for stationary storage applications.
Dr Amit Kumar – Postdoctoral Researcher
Amit completed his bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and M.Tech. in Chemical Synthesis and Process Technology from the University of Delhi, India. He obtained his MS and Ph.D. in Materials Science from Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan. During his Ph.D. he worked on the synthesis of high-performance polymers from biomass. He was awarded MEXT Scholarship from the Japanese Government during his Ph.D. He has worked as an Assistant Professor at the University of Delhi where he not only taught undergrad students but also guided them in research projects. In 2019, he joined JAIST, Japan as Research Assistant Professor where he carried forward his Ph.D. work and also guided Masters and Ph.D. students in Professor Tatsuo Kaneko laboratory. Later he worked as Postdoctoral Research Scientist at the Slovak Academy of Sciences, Slovakia, where he worked with Ing. Igor Lacik, DrSc. on functional polymer surfaces with a focus on surface modification and the study of the properties of biocompatible particles. He is currently working as a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Chemical Sciences, Bernal Institute, University of Limerick in Dr. Tadhg Kennedy’s group working on an industry driven project titled “Characterisation and optimization of the curing of benzocyclobutene for semiconductor applications.
Imadeddine Benfridja – PhD Researcher
Imadeddine Benfridja studied Electrical engineering at undergraduate level and obtained his MSc degree in electromagnetic compatibility in University of Jijel, Algeria. In 2018 he obtained a MSc degree in Power Integration and Materials from the University of Paul Sabatier Toulouse. Imadeddine Benfridja is currently a PhD student in the Department of Chemical Sciences, Bernal Institute, University of Limerick, within the research team of Dr. Tadhg Kennedy, working on the project entitled “Innovative Polymer Nanocomposite Formulations for High Performance Digital Isolation”, in conjunction with LAPLACE Institute in Toulouse, France, and the semiconductor company, Analog Devices Inc. in Raheen, Ireland.
His primary focus involves the development of (3-Aminopropyl)triethoxysilane and N1-(3-Trimethoxysilylpropyl)diethylenetriamine functionalized nanostructures such as silica, zinc oxide and graphene for the fabrication of polyimide based nanocomposites. The functionalized nanostructures are characterized using FT-IR, SEM, TEM, Zeta-sizer, Zeta potential and Raman Spectroscopy to validate its physicochemical properties and its further processing. Functionalised particles are used to prepare polyimide nanocomposites to investigate the effect of functionalization on composites properties. The nanocomposites are subsequently electrically characterized using dielectric spectroscopy, breakdown, and conductivity testing.
Stephen O’Sullivan – PhD Researcher
Stephen’s research is focused on developing cost-effective and environmentally friendly sodium ion batteries (NIBs). The primary application for this technology is in battery energy stationary storage (BESS), to aid curtailment issues commonly associated with solar and wind energy. Sodium is promising as an alternative to lithium for such applications due to being far cheaper and more abundant.
During his PhD, he aims to develop and demonstrate a high-capacity sodium ion battery, including anode, cathode, and electrolyte. In developing these components, materials will be selected to play into the inherent strengths of NIBs by choosing abundant and cheap solutions. Materials are also selected to keep in theme with the environmentally friendly side of the project as the end goal is to produce technology that will eventually contribute to renewable energy infrastructure. An important part of the design of both the anode and cathode materials in his work is the application of nanotechnology that has previously been developed by the group and applying it to NIBs in a novel way to give the batteries the best opportunity to out-perform current NIB technology and rival commercial LIBs. Instead of low specific capacity hard carbon anodes typically associated with NIB anodes, alloying materials will be used in conjunction with nanomaterials. This will allow the battery to benefit from the high capacity offered by alloying metals, while bespoke nanoarchitectures will help mitigate pulverisation which has thus far hindered the application of these materials. Similarly, nano structuring will be used in the cathode to help improve the poor conductivity and sluggish performance associated with materials such as sodium iron sulphate.
Adrian Hannon – PhD Researcher
Adrian completed his undergraduate degree, 2014-18, in applied physics at NUIGalway, focusing his interest on nanotechnology and properties of materials, as well as doing several summer research internships. Following this, in 2018-19, he completed a scholarship funded master’s degree in advanced engineering of materials at the University of Limerick. Here, Adrian focused further on nano-structured materials and synthesis for electrical applications, as well as a range of characterisation techniques. Towards the end of his masters, Adrian began working for Analog Devices International (ADI) in their department for molecular sensing. Here, he worked on the modelling, design, fabrication, and characterisation of various sensing technologies with their research and development team. After developing this well-rounded, industry-focused skillset with ADI, Adrian left to commence his Ph.D. research studies under the supervision of Dr Tadhg Kennedy and Dr Kieran McGourty in November of 2020, at the Bernal Labs in the University of Limerick.
Adrian’s thesis work focuses on the development of an electrochemical biosensing platform. The research is multidisciplinary in its approach, incorporating elements of nanotechnology, electro- and biochemistry, material science, and immunology. The project tackles the various components of the device platform with a layer-by-layer approach. These components include:
Misbah Mushtaq – PhD Researcher
Misbah Mushtaq was born in Pakistan and graduated from the Bahauddin Zakriya University Multan receiving a Master degree in Physical Chemistry. She is currently working in Dr Kennedy’s group in UL as a PhD researcher. Misbah’s research focuses on the synthesis and characterization of electrode materials for sodium-ion batteries.
Briana Mulligan Clarke – PhD Researcher
Briana Mulligan-Clarke received her bachelor’s degree in Pharmaceutical and Industrial Chemistry with a first-class honors from University of Limerick in 2021. During her studies she completed a research project focusing on lectin-based biosensor technology in the Bernal institute. Following this, she completed a summer internship funded by the Science Foundation Ireland. Working as a part of CONFIRM Smart Manufacturing the research focused on the development of silicon-graphite composite anodes. After the internship, Briana worked as an analytical chemist in the biopharmaceutical industry for a year. In this time, she developed a well-rounded industry-based skillset including wet chemistry techniques, microbial identification, and bioburden testing.
In March 2022, Briana was awarded an Irish Research Council scholarship and is currently a PhD student working as part of Dr. Tadhg Kennedy’s group at the Bernal labs in University of Limerick. Her research is focused on developing a completely sustainable sodium ion battery active materials.