UCSB Materials welcomes Professor Jeff Sakamoto, who has been appointed as a Mehrabian Endowed Chancellor's Chair starting on November 1, 2023. Prof. Sakamoto’s research focuses on the area of functional ceramics. Ceramics are an important materials class ubiquitously found in a variety of applications, from high thermal barrier coatings, to thermoelectrics, semiconductors, and electrode and solid electrolyte materials. Prof. Sakamoto has made significant advances in the area of ionically-conducting ceramics, or ceramic ion conductors (CICs), that are critical materials for high-energy density, safe solid-state batteries.
Currently, his group is investigating how to design, develop, and manufacture new materials to enable the next generation of battery technologies. It is widely accepted that electrochemical energy storage will play a major role in creating a more sustainable future that relies on electrical rather than fossil fuel energy. His research is focused on solid-state ionic conductors that can transport Li and Na ions as fast as liquid electrolytes. Moreover, many of these materials exhibit the unprecedented compatibility with metallic Li; an electrode that has ten times the capacity compared to state-of-the-art Li ion electrodes. However, there remain fundamental knowledge gaps in understanding how these solid electrolytes can replace liquid electrolytes that are currently used in conventional batteries. Examples of some of the scientific questions he is trying to answer are: What controls the stability and kinetics of solid electrolyte-solid electrode interfaces? How does the coupling of mechanical and electrochemical forces affect the operation of interfaces? How to manufacture solid electrolyte and solid-state batteries at scale and at low cost? Through broad collaboration and multidisciplinary research, he hopes to bridge these knowledge gaps to accelerate the adoption of higher performance and safe electric vehicle (EV) batteries and low-cost electrical grid batteries.
Prof. Sakamoto received his Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. He subsequently rose to Senior Staff Scientist at NASA/Caltech/Jet Propulsion Laboratory. He is a former faculty member of Michigan State University and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.