University Scholar Amin Salehi-Khojin
The University Scholars Program honors faculty members for superior research and teaching, along with great promise for future achievements. The award provides $15,000 a year for three years.
Associate Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering
Years at UIC: 10
What are your research interests?
Designing new energy storage, conversion and transfer systems for CO2 conversion to liquid fuel, high energy density batteries, heat management in electronics and high entropy materials for extreme conditions.
How did you become interested in these topics?
The main motivation to work in the field of energy is to find new sources of clean energy for the future, which is one of world’s most daunting challenges now. In my lab, we realized that discovery of new materials with outstanding functionalities is the key to make breakthroughs in the energy field. New materials enable us to overcome barriers and limitations of existing systems. For instance, at UIC, for the first time, we designed the lithium-air (Li-air) battery system that operates in real air environment for 700 cycles (Nature, 2018). We developed the first generation of a solar-to-fuel energy storage system using a novel artificial leaf platform that mimics the photosynthesis process and converts CO2 to energy rich chemicals using solar energy without any electricity input (Science, 2016). We developed the first carbon neutral and fully rechargeable Li-CO2 batteries (Advanced Materials, 2019). The results of this research were highlighted in Cold-Fusion TV with the corresponding >900,000 views in YouTube.
What do you teach?
I teach thermodynamics, heat transfer and energy transfer at micro/nanoscales. The driving concept for all these topics is based on the energy conservation, in which students are learned to apply this concept to real world problems.
How do you balance teaching and research?
I strongly believe that teaching is as important as research. We need to keep in mind that we are working in academia and our immediate impact besides research outcomes are to train excellent undergraduate and graduate students.
What’s your advice to students who want to focus their future careers on research?
They need to build a strong scientific foundation to perform high impact research. Also, they need to be innovative and think differently about new (future) societal demands which could be very different from today’s challenges.