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Electrochem 2016 Conference Report

Dona Thanuja Galhena

13 Sep 2016

This year, the 21st annual Electrochem meeting was held from 17 to 19 August, celebrating the 75th anniversary of the invention of the potentiostat, at the location of its discovery, the University of Leicester. The conference was held at Stamford Court, the university’s premier conference venue, with a diverse range of symposia covering energy, materials and green electrochemistry, electrochemical sensing and electrochemical techniques and tools. Bringing together key experts, professionals and young researchers with a shared interest in electrochemistry and engineering, it created an important platform where everyone could debate, exchange and promote new ideas, in the vast field of Electrochemistry.

As a young researcher who is working on electrochemical energy storage devices, I got the opportunity to attend this too-good-to-miss event, after winning the best oral presenter prize for my talk on ‘Graphene Oxide as a Model System to Understand the Capacitance Variation in Sub-Nanometer Pores’ at the SCI Electrochemistry Postgraduate Conference 2016, which was held at University College London, on 26 May 2016. The prize, which was sponsored by SCI Electrochemical Technology Group, included free registration at the Electrochem 2016 conference at the University of Leicester as well as free membership of SCI for one year. Thanks to this generous financial support from SCI, at Electrochem 2016, I got the opportunity to present my research contribution in understanding fundamental energy storage principles of electrochemical double layer capacitors (EDLCs).

Understanding of the complex relationships between electrode pore size and the obtainable specific capacitances still remains limited and has been a subject of intense debate. In my talk, I presented the new approach I developed to address this long-held controversy by introducing interlayer constrictions in layered carbon electrode materials as a model system for electrode pores. This allows, for the first time, for pore sizes to be both controllably tuned and studied in-situ during supercapacitor device use. Facile and controlled, propylene carbonate driven variations in the interlayer spacing of free standing graphene oxide electrodes were combined with in-situ X-ray diffractometry and electrochemical device testing to directly assess how the specific capacitance in the model electrodes scales with interlayer constriction size (ACS Nano, 2016, 10 (1), pp 747-75). This was a truly exciting experience for me as a young researcher and was an ideal opportunity to get suggestions, comments and views from my peers and my colleagues on my work.

There were fascinating talks and posters on generation and storage of energy, development and exploitation of new materials, extraction and re-cycling of natural resources, electrochemical sensing in bio-medical and environmental applications and electrochemical and non-electrochemical techniques in the study of electrochemical processes. Also, running throughout the conference was the conference exhibition, where exhibitors from industry showcased what they have to offer. It was an interesting area to visit, where there were many different prototypes to view and interact with. The social gathering and the conference dinner, which was held at the John Foster Hall, provided an incredible atmosphere and a great opportunity for many un-official research discussions, general networking and future planning. On-site accommodation provided at Oadby Student Village, located in the beautiful surroundings of the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, was a great convenience to the delegates.

Participation in this conference gave me the valuable opportunity to meet potential collaborators both from industry and academia and to expand my peer networks across the field. Also this conference had a significant influence in shaping my thoughts and ideas in the research areas that I am going to focus on in the future. Therefore, I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to SCI for the financial support that has been offered to me to experience this fascinating event. Thank you SCI!

D T L Galhena MIET MRSC
Department of Engineering, Electrical Engineering Division, University of Cambridge

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