Rensselaer Alumni Magazine - Fall 2017 - 16
Robust Polymers in Anion Exchange
Membranes for Alkaline Fuel Cells
Graduate Student Wins
emily KOsmaczewsKi '16, m.s.'17, has been
The Fulbright program emphasizes
awarded a Fulbright U.S. Student Program
cultural exchange, and Kosmaczewski,
grant for the 2017-2018 academic year
in addition to her scientific research, will
from the U.S. Department of State and the
explore the differences in art and dance
J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship
in Poland. At Rensselaer she spent two
Board. Kosmaczewski will spend her
years working to improve theater on
Fulbright tenure conducting research on
campus and served as director of the
radio galaxies at Jagiellonian University
theater honor society.
in Krakow, Poland.
"I will share my love
of theater by planning
Emily Kosmaczewski is the
her bachelor's degree
group outings to the local
eighth Rensselaer student
in applied physics and
theaters in Krakow, such
to win a Fulbright award,
aerospace science and her
as the District Cultural
and the first to pursue
master's in astronomy at
Institution and the
research in physics.
Rensselaer. At Jagiellonian
Stary Theater, as well as
University, she will be
participate in the all-girls
researching infrared features of young radio choir group, Zenski Chor Akademicki,"
galaxies with Lukasz Stawarz in the Depart- says Kosmaczewski. "I think it is important
ment of High Energy Astrophysics, within
for scientists to have an artistic outlet."
the school's Astronomical Observatory.
Kosmaczewski is the eighth student
"The research group under Professor
from Rensselaer to win a Fulbright award,
Stawarz is working to determine an evoluand the first to pursue research in physics.
tionary model for how radio galaxies form
Those preceding her were Theodore
and 'live,' " says Kosmaczewski.
Bork (1950 academic year), architecture,
In recent papers published by the StaNetherlands; Richard Sonder (1954),
warz group, it has been suggested that radio architecture, Denmark; Dean Nieusma
galaxies may be formed within radio lobes.
(2001), anthropology, Sri Lanka; Elizabeth
It was previously thought that they formed
Press (2001), filmmaking, Dominican
within accretion disks-large disks of dust
Republic; Jeanette Simmonds (2006),
and gas from which the galaxy's jets of
history, Australia; Marcella Szablewicz
ionized matter originate. If this hypothesis
(2009), communications, China; and
proves correct, there will be infrared absorpPhilip Robinson (2011), interdisciplinary
tion present in the galaxy's spectrum.
16 rensselaer/fall 2017
A major impediment to the commercialization of anion exchange membrane fuel
cells and electrolyzers is the preparation of
a membrane with sufficient chemical and
mechanical stability under the operating
conditions of alkaline systems. Chemistry
and Chemical Biology Associate Professor
Chulsung Bae has invented a new class of
polyarylenes with an improved synthetic
design providing chemical and mechanical
stability and, therefore, durability and performance of membranes formed using this
polymer. The design of the polymer backbone renders them more chemically stable
at standard fuel cell operating temperatures.
Additionally, the synthetic strategy employs
a variety of sterically hindered quarternized
ammonium groups increasing chemical
stability of the active anion transporting
side chains. Potential uses of these robust
polymers include electrolyzers, metal-air
battery application, actuators, sensors,
Photonic Crystals for Improved
Solar Energy Harvesting
Current photovoltaic crystals yield solar cells
with an undesirable dollar-per-watt cost
driven by poor near-infrared absorption of
the product. To help address the significant
demand for stable and renewable energy,
Constellation Professor of Physics, Applied
Physics, and Astronomy Shawn-Yu Lin has
created a novel and economic photonic
crystal structure that improves light trapping
by exploiting a Gaussian-type gradient-index
profile, therefore decreasing losses due to
reflection and near-orthogonal energy flow.
Combined, these properties improve nearinfrared absorption and increase overall
solar energy harvesting. Experimentation
has shown improved efficiency as sustained
all the way to a 60 degree incident angle.
The crystals can be produced using a
simple process suitable to high throughput,
wafer-scale fabrication. Aside from solar
energy cells, potential applications of these
unique crystals include novel organic and
inorganic light-emitting diodes (LEDs) for
enhanced light extraction in solid-state lighting and flat-panel and flexible displays.
To learn more, go to www.rpitechnology.
com or email email@example.com.