The innovation engine for new materials

Ryan Gilmore

2013 Intern


University of California, Los Angeles


Materials Science

Site Abroad: 

Leibniz Institute for New Materials, Saarbruecken, Germany


Jennifer Atchison

Faculty Sponsor(s): 

Dr. Volker Presser

Faculty Sponsor's Department: 


Project Title: 


Project Description: 

Capacitive Deionization is an emerging technology for water desalination that uses less energy than existing methods. The process works by applying a potential difference across a pair of electrodes, and then passing water in between the two. Due to electrostatic forces, the salt ions exit the water stream and adsorb into the porous electrodes. It has been found that maximizing the specific surface area and minimizing the resistance of the electrode material leads to increased desalination performance. My task this summer was to fabricate thin film electrodes using various activated carbon powders bound together with polymer based binders. By varying the weight percentage of each component, I could fine-tune the material properties of the electrode and thus optimize the system. A combination of 95% activated carbon and 5% carbon black maximized both the surface area and conductivity. Polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon) was found to be the most effective polymer for binding the nanoparticles together. This study was significant because we developed an electrode for Capacitive Deionization that desalinates effectively, but it also is cheap and easy to fabricate and uses very little energy during operation. This technology has the potential to gain traction in industry in the very near future.