A postdoctoral fellow position is available for the synthesis and testing of redox-active
small organic molecules for electrical energy storage, such as the electrochemical couples
used in the flow batteries described in 1 – 3. The position is for fifteen months starting in
early January 2022.
The cost of wind and photovoltaic (PV) electricity have dropped so rapidly that their
intermittency is the greatest remaining technical obstacle to getting the vast majority of
our electricity from these safe, renewable sources. Grid-scale storage could solve this
problem, but currently no cost-effective solution exists to this large-scale storage problem.
The advantages of liquid flow batteries are giving them increased attention for grid-scale
electrical storage. Conventional solid electrode batteries can maintain peak discharge
power for only a few hours before being drained, whereas many hours to days are required
to match variable sources like wind and PV with the fluctuating demand for electricity. In a
flow battery, the discharge time may be made as long as needed by increasing the size of
the storage tanks for the liquid reactants and products.
With Harvard’s approach to flow battery chemistry, electrical energy is stored through
electrochemical redox reactions of small organic molecules dissolved in aqueous
electrolyte, and returned to the grid through the reversal of these reactions. This particular
approach has potential advantages over other flow battery chemistries, including high
power density, inexpensive chemicals, energy storage in the form of safer liquids, and
inexpensive electrolyte-contacting materials.
This 15-month research project is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy through a
subcontract from Quino Energy, Inc.; it is a collaboration between the experimental
chemistry group of Prof. Roy Gordon of the Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
(CCB) and the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), the
electrochemical materials group of Prof. Michael Aziz in SEAS, and Quino Energy. In the
Gordon lab the postdoc who takes this position will perform research and development on
low-cost synthetic routes for redox-active small organic molecules. These will include
established and new functionalized anthraquinones, isomers, and isomer mixtures. S/he
will work with collaborators in the Aziz group to characterize the properties of these
chemicals and their performance in small electrochemical flow cells. S/he will work with
one or more external consultants on estimating the mass-production cost and, informed by
such cost estimates, will modify synthetic procedures in an iterative process. There will be
opportunities to work closely with and visit scaleup manufacturers to see how the lab
process is scaled to the mass-production scale.
• All the work for a Ph.D. in Chemistry, Electrochemistry, or a related field must be
completed by the time the researcher starts this position.
• Availability to begin the position by March 2022 or sooner.
• Demonstrated strong skills in organic synthesis.
• Some familiarity with large-scale industrial chemistry.
• Pragmatism in meeting project deadlines.
• Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively with others.
• Our DOE funding source excludes from this project persons participating in a
Foreign Government-Sponsored Talent Recruitment Program of Iran, China, North
Korea, and Russia
Interested parties should submit a C.V. including a list of publications, two publications of
which they’re proudest, and contact information for 2-4 professional references through
the ARIES application system at https://academicpositions.harvard.edu/postings/10853
Full consideration will be given to all applications received by December 15, 2021;
applications received thereafter will be considered until the position is filled.
SEAS is dedicated to building a diverse and welcoming community, and we strongly
encourage applications from historically underrepresented groups. Harvard is an equal
opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment
without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran
status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions or
any other characteristic protected by law.
 K. Lin, Q. Chen, M.R. Gerhardt, L. Tong, S.B. Kim, L. Eisenach, A.W. Valle, D. Hardee, R.G.
Gordon, M.J. Aziz and M.P. Marshak, “Alkaline Quinone Flow Battery”, Science 349, 1529
 M. Wu, Y. Jing, A.A. Wong, E.M. Fell, S. Jin, Z. Tang, R.G. Gordon and M.J. Aziz, “Extremely
Stable Anthraquinone Negolytes Synthesized from Common Precursors” Chem 6, 1432
 Y. Jing, E.M. Fell, M. Wu, S. Jin, Y. Ji, D.A. Pollack, Z. Tang, D. Ding, M. Bahari, M.-A. Goulet,
T. Tsukamoto, R.G. Gordon and M.J. Aziz, “Long-lifetime, potentially low-cost anthraquinone
flow battery chemistry developed from study of effects of water-solubilizing group and
connection to core”; https://doi.org/10.33774/chemrxiv-2021-0cb4d