Susan Odom

  • Associate Professor
  • Chemistry
  • Materials
  • Organic
207 Chemistry-Physics Building
859-257-3294, 859-257-9545 (lab)
Other Affiliations:
  • Harvard University
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Research Interests:

B.S. University of Kentucky, 2003
Ph.D. Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008
University of Illinois, postdoctoral researcher, 2008-2011


My research focuses on the synthesis and evaluation of materials for energy storage applications including organic electro-active materials for charge storage in redox flow batteries.  My group studies the reactions of oxidized and reduced compounds, both as synthetic intermediates and also to get an idea of what kinds of reactions occur in these oxidized states in complex battery environments.  


Despite their prevalence in consumer electronics, which ranges from cell phones to laptops to electric vehicles, secondary Li-ion batteries need improvement in order to extend their lifetimes. Each time a Li-ion battery charges and discharges, the liquid electrolyte (often carbonate solvents with lithium salts) partially decomposes, contributing to the formation of a solid electrolyte interface (SEI) layer between the electrodes and electrolyte. The cause for decomposition is that the electrolyte solvents are unstable in the voltages of lithium ion battery operation, which are generally quite reducing. We are developing additives for protection during normal cycling and during battery overcharge, when the electrical potential one or more batteries in a series is raised beyond the end-of-charge potential of the cathode. Operating in this overcharge results in electrolyte oxidation and increased temperatures, which can lead battery failure.

In addition to the decrease in battery lifetime, this failure mechanism can be dangerous if batteries ignite, causing a cascade of thermal runaway events in neighboring batteries. Given the size of the batteries in electric and hybrid electric vehicles (about 200 kg), thermal runaway is a major safety concern due to the large amount of reactive material within one battery pack. We are therefore improving the stability and efficacy of electrolyte additives through structural modifications for steric protection of reactive groups and electronic modification through the introduction of electron donating or withdrawing substituents. Involvement in this project can range from the synthesis of new small molecules as electrolyte additives, battery fabrication, and characterization of battery cycling performance and additive reactivity.

Our research projects use organic chemistry, polymer chemistry, and spectroscopy to solve problems in applications in electrochemical energy storage systems.  We endeavor to utilize information on the basic structure and electronic properties of conjugated organic molecules in systems that have relevance to applications in lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries and non-aqeous redox flow batteries. Members of the lab have opportunities to synthesize small organic compounds and/or polymers, perform spectroscopic and analytical experiments, and incorporate successful materials into batteries that are fabricated in our laboratory.  More information about our research group can be found here:

Graduate Training

organic chemistry

Selected Publications: 

Casselman, M.D.; Elliott, C.F.; Modekrutti, S.; Zhang. P.L.; Parkin, S.R.; Risko, C.;* Odom, S.A.* "Beyond the Hammett Effect: Using Strain to Alter the Landscape of Electrochemical Potentials." ChemPhysChem, manuscript accepted on June 7, 2017. manuscript ID cphc.201700607.

Milshtein, J.D.; Kaur, A.P.; Casselman, M.D.; Kowalski, J.A.; Modekrutti, S.; Zhang, P.; Attanayake, N.H.; Elliott, C.F.; Parkin, S.R.; Risko, C.; Brushett, F.R.;* Odom, S.A.* "High Current Density, Long Duration Cycling of Soluble Organic Active Species for Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries." Energy Environ. Sci.2016, 9, 3531-3543. DOI: 10.1039/C6EE02027E

Holubowitch, N.E.; Manek, S.E.; Landon, J.; Lippert, C.A.; Odom, S.A.; Liu, K.* "Molten Zinc Allows for Lower Temperature, Lower Cost Liquid Metal Batteries." Adv. Mater. Tech., 20161. DOI: 10.1002/admt.201600035

Kaur, A.P.; Casselman, M.D.; Elliott, C.F.; Parkin, S.R.; Risko, C.; Odom, S.A.* "Overcharge Protection at Above 4 V with a Perfluorinated Phenothiazine Derivative." J. Mater. Chem. A, 2016, 4, 5410-5414. DOI: 10.1039/C5TA10375D

Holubowitch, N.E.; Manek, S.E.; Landon, J.; Lippert, C.A.; Odom, S.A.; Liu, K.* "Cathode Candidates for Zinc-Based Thermal-Electrochemical Energy Storage." Int. J. Energy Res., 2016,  40, 393-399. DOI: 10.1002/er.3385

Kaur, A.P.; Elliott, C.F.; Ergun, S.; Odom, S.A.* "Overcharge Protection of 3,7-Bis(trifluoromethyl)-N-ethylphenothiazine at High Concentrations in Lithium-Ion Batteries." J. Electrochem. Soc.2016163, A1-A7. DOI: 10.1149/2.0951514jes

Kaur, A.P.; Holubowitch, N.E.; Ergun, S.E.; Elliott, C.F.; Odom, S.A.* "A Highly Soluble Organic Catholyte for Non-Aqueous Redox Flow Batteries." Energy Tech., 20153, 476-480. (Cover article) DOI: 10.1002/ente.201500020

Casselman, M.D.; Kaur, A.P.; Narayana, K.A.; Elliott, C.F.; Risko, C.;* Odom, S.A.* "The Fate of Phenothiazine-Based Redox Shuttles in Lithium-Ion Batteries." PhysChemChemPhys, 201517, 6905-6912. DOI: 10.1039/C5CP00199D

Narayana, K.A.; Casselman, M.D.; Elliott, C.F.; Ergun, S.E.; Risko, C.;* Odom, S.A.* "N-Substituted Phenothiazine Derivatives: How Stability of the Neutral and Radical Cation Forms Affect Overcharge Performance in Lithium-Ion Batteries." ChemPhysChem, 20156, 1179-1189. (Cover article) DOI: 10.1002/chpc.201402674

Kaur, A.P.; Ergun, S.; Elliott, C.F.; Odom, S.A.* "3,7-Bis(trifluoromethyl)-N-Ethylphenothiazine: A Redox Shuttle with Extended Overcharge Protection." J. Mater. Chem. A., 20142, 18190-18193. DOI: 10.1039/C4TA04463K

Lippert, C. A.; Liu, K.; Sharma, M.; Parkin, S. R.; Remias, J. E.; Brandewie, C. M.; Odom, S. A.; Liu, K.* "Improving Carbon Capture from Power Plant Emissions with Zinc- and Cobalt-based Catalysts."  Cat. Sci. & Tech., 20144, 3620-3625. DOI: 10.1039/C4CY00766B

Ergun, S.; Elliottt, C. F.; Kaur, A. P.; Parkin, S. R.; Odom, S. A.* "Controlling Oxidation Potentials in Redox Shuttle Candidates for Lithium-Ion Batteries." J. Phys. Chem. C. 2014118, 14824-14832. DOI: 10.1021/jp503767h

Ergun, S.; Elliott, C.N.; Kaur, A.P.; Parkin, S.R.; Odom, S.A.* "Overcharge Performance of 3,7-Disubstituted N-Ethylphenothiazine Derivatives in Lithium-Ion Batteries." Chem. Commun. 2014, 50, 5339-5341. Emerging Investigators Issue, DOI: 10.1039/C3CC47503D

Odom, S.A;* Ergun, S.; Poudel, P.P.; Parkin, S.R. "A Fast, Inexpensive Method for Predicting Overcharge Performance in Lithium-Ion Batteries." Energy Environ. Sci. 2014, 7, 760-767. DOI: 10.1039/C3EE42305K

Abouimrane, A.; Odom, S.A; Tavassool, H.; Schulmerich, M.C.; Bhargava, R.; Gewirth, A.A.; Moore, J.S.,* Amine, K.* "3-Hexylthiophene as a Stabilizing Additive for High Voltage Cathodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries." J. Electrochem. Soc. 2013, 160, A168-A277. DOI: 10.1149/2.039302jes

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