Keith J. Stevensonstevenson
Department of Chemistry
University of Texas at Austin

Education & Training:

PhD, University of Utah, 1997
BA, University of Puget Sound, 1989
Postdoctoral Fellow, Northwestern University 1997-2000

Analytical Chemistry, Electrochemistry and Surface Chemistry

Our research is aimed at understanding and controlling the kinetics and energetics of reactions occurring at scientifically interesting, technologically relevant solid/liquid interfaces. Driving our fundamental interest is the need to comprehend the intricate relationships between mass transport, surface reactivity, and interfacial structure. This information is useful for the design and optimization of superior chemical process technologies associated with the areas of chemical sensing, energy storage/conversion, photonics, microelectronics, and device miniaturization.

Nanostructured Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage

Thrusts in this area focus on the creation and study of new materials with improved chemical, electronic and structural properties for potential applications in catalysis and power source technologies (e.g., fuel cells and batteries). One goal is to prepare high surface area (>100 m2/g) and high porosity (>70 to 99%) materials with tailored composition and nanostructure (e.g., size, shape and orientation). For instance, we have prepared nanocarbons via chemical vapor deposition that are inherently catalytic for oxygen reduction and hydrogen peroxide decomposition. Current studies involve the synergistic tuning of these nanocarbon supports with more active metal catalysts to enhance catalytic performance.

Chemically-Responsive Composites for Analysis and Sensing

Projects in this area are directed toward the assembly of nanostructured materials (mesoporous, colloidal, sorptive or framework solids) and chemical composites (substrate-specific, activator/reporter molecule systems) for use in developing selective chemical sensing methodologies. By employing both conventional and non-conventional nano- and micro-patterning techniques in conjunction with chemical and electrochemical deposition methods, we have been able to fabricate composite assemblies that are useful as 1D and 2D optical transmission gratings in chemical sensing applications. In a separate project, we have utilized the redox activity of small molecules in a mediated, enzymatic electrochemical sensing scheme. This system enables ultra-low (<1 nM); quantitative detection of biogenic analytes (cholesterol, hydrogen peroxide).

Development of High Resolution Analytical Tools/Methods

Projects in this area focus on the development of improved analytical methods and tools for the spatial, temporal, and spectral investigation of materials and interfaces. Better comprehension of mechanistic factors obtained by these measurements allows for direct establishment of structure/composition/performance relationships. For instance, we have recently used spectroelectrochemical imaging schemes to study proton and lithium insertion at inhomogeneous metal oxides (e. g. MoO3, MoxW1-xO3, MnO2,). Information of this kind is useful for developing superior materials for batteries, flexible electronics, electrochromics, and solar cells. We also developed ultra-sharp, nanosized probe tips with controlled geometry and orientation. These probe provide enhanced spatial resolution for characterization of nanoscale, high-aspect ratio features commonly associated with microelectronic devices.


Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology; IGERT: Atomic and Molecular Imaging; Texas Materials Institute; Welch Summer Scholar Program; Center for Electrochemistry; The Freshman Research Initiative

Honors and Awards: 

Kavli Fellow, 2012
SEAC Young Investigator, 2006
CSGS New Scholar Award, 2004
NSF CAREER Award, 2002

Selected Peer-reviewed Publications:

1.Mefford, J. T.; Hardin, W. G.; Dai, S.; Johnston, K. P.; Stevenson, K. J. “Anion Charge Storage Through Oxygen Intercalation in LaMnO3 Perovskite Pseudocapacitor Electrodes,” Nat. Mater. 2014, 13(7), 726-732.

2. Hardin, W. G.; Mefford, J. T.; Wang, X.; Dai, S.; Ruoff, R. S.; Johnston, K. P.; Stevenson, K. J. “Tuning the Electrocatalytic Activity of Perovskites Through Active Site Variation and Support Interactions,” Chem. Mater. 2014 26, 3368−3376.

3. Goran, J.; Favela, C.; Stevenson, K. J. “Investigating the Electrocatalytic Oxidation of Dihydronicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide at Nitrogen-Doped Carbon Nanotube Electrodes: Implications to Electrochemically Measuring Dehydrogenase Enzyme Kinetics,” ACS Catal. 2014 4, 2969-2976.

4. Redman, D. W.; Murugesan, S.; Stevenson, K. J. “Cathodic Electrodeposition of Amorphous Elemental Selenium From an Air- and Water-stable Room Temperature Ionic Liquid,” Langmuir 2014 30(1), 418-425.

5. Dasari, R.; Tai, K.; Robinson, D. A.; Stevenson, K. J. “Electrochemical Monitoring of Single Nanoparticle Collisions at Mercury Modified Platinum Ultramicroelectrodes,”ACS Nano 2014 8(5), 4539-4546.

6. Murugesan, S.; Quintero, O. A.; Chou, B. P.; Xiao, P.; Park, K.-Y.; Hall, J. A.; Jones, R. A.; Henkelman, G.; Goodenough, J. B.; Stevenson, K. J. “Wide Electrochemical Window Ionic Salt for use in Electropositive Metal Electrodeposition and Lithium Ion Batteries,” J. Mater. Chem. A 2014, 2, 2194–2201.

7. Dylla, A.; Henkelman, G.; Stevenson, K. J. “Lithium Insertion in Nanostructured TiOArchitectures,” Acc. Chem. Res. 2013, 46(5) 1104-1112.

8. Membreno, N.; Xiao, P.; Park, K.-Y.; Goodenough, J. B.; Henkelman, G.; Stevenson, K. J. “In Situ Raman Study of Phase Stability of  Li3V2(PO4)3 upon Thermal and Laser Heating,” J. Phys. Chem. C 2013, 117(23), 11994-12002.

9. Johnson, J. A.; Makis, J.; Marvin, K. A.; Rodenbusch, S. E.; Stevenson, K. J. “Size-dependent Hydrogenation of p-Nitrophenol with Pd Nanoparticles Synthesized by Polyamido(amine) Dendrimer Templates,” J. Phys. Chem. C 2013 117(44), 22644-22651.

10. Dasari, R.; Robinson, D.; Stevenson, K. J. “Ultrasensitive Electroanalytical Tool for Detecting, Sizing and Evaluating the Catalytic Activity of Platinum Nanoparticles,” J. Amer. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135(2), 570-573.

11. Goran, J. M.; Mantilla, S. M.; Stevenson, K. J. “Influence of Surface Adsorption on Interfacial Electron Transfer of Flavin Adenine Dinucleotide and Glucose Oxidase at Carbon Nanotube and Nitrogen-doped Carbon Nanotube Electrodes,” Anal. Chem. 2013, 85(3), 1571-1581.

12. Hardin, W. G.; Slanac, D. A.; Wang, X.; Dai, S.; Johnston, K. P.; Stevenson, K. J. “Highly Active, Non-precious Metal Perovskite Electrocatalysts for Bifunctional Metal Air Battery Electrodes,” J. Phys. Chem. Lett. 2013, 4, 1254-1259.
The Skoltech Center for Electrochemical Energy Storage (CEES) is an inter-university/interdepartmental center with three major goals:

  • Development of advanced lithium ion and multivalent ion batteries
  • The development of rechargeable metal-air batteries, and
  • Development of reversible low and elevated temperature fuel cells

The Skoltech CEES, established in 2013, includes 17 faculty members from the Skolkovo Institute for Science and Technology* (Skoltech), Moscow State University (MSU) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The Skoltech CEES combines MSU expertise in theory, electrochemistry and materials synthesis, and MIT investigators who have significantly contributed to a burst of innovation in electrochemical energy material and device design with overall leadership from Skoltech.

Electrochemical energy storage devices and systems can be used to dramatically improve the efficiency of grid-level energy use, through load leveling and power-shaping. These devices can also serve as energy buffers to increase the efficient use of alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and water that are intermittent in nature. They also offer the promise of shifting transportation uses of fossil fuels entirely to cleaner and more efficient sources. Advances in the technology of electrochemical energy storage devices are also powering the explosion in use of mobile information and communication devices that is transforming world culture.

At MIT the Skoltech CEES draws upon faculty from the Departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering.

Opportunities for undergraduates and graduate students are available for UROP projects and thesis research. There are also a limited number of postdoctoral research positions.

* The Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech) is a private graduate research university in Skolkovo, Russia, a suburb of Moscow. Established in 2011 in collaboration with MIT, Skoltech educates global leaders in innovation, advances scientific knowledge, and fosters new technologies to address critical issues facing Russia and the world. Applying international research and educational models, the university integrates the best Russian scientific traditions with twenty-first century entrepreneurship and innovation.

Li Air Battery

 Areas of research include, but are not limited to:

• Synthesis of nanostructured oxide catalysts/electrodes

• In situ studies of electrochemical reactions and chemical reactivity

• Novel electrode designs

• Solvent influence on redox potentials

• Nucleation and growth of Li2O2/Na2O

• In situ TEM studies of electrode-water interface

• In situ XANES of oxides

Thrust 1 figure


Areas of research include, but are not limited to:

• Design, synthesis and characterization of polyanion-based cathode materials

• Alternative uni- and multi-valent anode materials

• Low-cost carbon-based cathode materials 

Areas of research include, but are not limited to:

• Design, synthesis and characterization of polyanion-based cathode materials

• Alternative uni- and multi-valent anode materials

• Low-cost carbon-based cathode materials

Reversible Fuel Cells

Areas of research include, but are not limited to:

• New catalytically active electrodes

• Mixed ionic/electronic conduction

• Novel electrode templating

• Engineered solid electrolytes

• Model thin film cells

• Thick film cells

• Development of structured PEMFC active layers

• PEMFC prototyping and degradation studies

• Alternative means for depositing Pt and supports

• Stability under both fuel cell and electrolysis cell modes

• Investigate degradation modes

• Prototyping

Intermediate Temperature Solid Oxide Fuel Cells

  • New catalytically active electrodes
    ABO3/A2BO4 nanocomposites
    Nanostructured electrodes
  • Engineered solid electrolytes
    Interface/strain controlled

Polymer Electrolyte Fuel Cells

  • Development of structured PEMFC active layers.
    Self-organized micelles of fluorinated co-polymers
  • PEMFC prototyping and degradation studies.
    Alternative electrode materials and structuring

Reversible Fuel/Electrolysis Cells

  • New stable electrodes
    Stability under both fuel cell and electrolysis modes
    Composite morphologies
  • Material selection and synthesis for fuel versatility


Development of nanostructured electrodes: select  electrode materials and electrolytes that prevent side reactions

Basic studies of oxygen electrocatalysis using in situ/in operandi tools . (XPS, Synchrotron radiation, XANES, TEM etc.)

Integrate theoretical studies and first principles calculations





Advanced electrode materials
(LiMPO4, LiMBO3, Li2MPO4F, LiV2O5: high-voltages and/or high capacity)

Advanced electrolytes and solvent-electrode interfaces (SEI)
(for high-voltage batteries)

Multivalent ion batteries
(host structures and electrolytes for Mg-ion batteries)


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  • Novel microporous separators
    (porous PE films by a solid state manufacturing process)
  • New Proton Conductive Composite Membranes
    (specially designed for redox systems)
  • Prototyping:
    • Batteries with redox reactions of small molecules
    • Metal-free aqueous flow battery

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Keith Stevenson


  • June 2014; Professor SkolTech
  • Professor, Department of Chemistry, UT-Austin
  • UT-Austin, Director, Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology
  • Consultant: Eveready Battery Company, Inc., Dow Corning, Xidex, Inc., International Sematech, Freescale Semiconductor, Ironbridge Technologies, Inc., Air Products, Inc., Soladigm, Adesto.
  • Chair Elect Gordon Research Conference on Electrochemistry, 2014

Atomic and molecular structure; interactions of atoms and molecules at surfaces; interfacial electrochemistry and development of electrochemical theory and methods; molecular transport phenomena; scanning probe microscopies (STM, AFM, and SECM); optical microscopy; development of optical imaging methodologies and surface-sensitive analytical techniques; materials chemistry; development of electrochemical synthetic techniques; chemical sensors; analytical device miniaturization; energy storage and conversion.

Carl V. Thompson

  • Stavros Salapatas Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
  • Director, Materials Processing Center
  • Co-Chair, Program in Advanced Materials for Micro- and Nano-Systems, Singapore Alliance, 2000-2014

Templated self-assembly of arrays of nanomaterials and synthesis of nanomaterials and nanostructured materials, with a focus on applications in energy devices, including Li-ion and Li-air batteries

Alexei Khokhlov

  • Academician Russian Academy of Science
  • Professor of Physics
  • Vice-Rector of the Moscow State University. University, 2008 -
  • Lomonosov Moscow State University

Polymer physics, physical chemistry of polyelectrolytes and ionomers, computer simulations of polymer systems, fuel cells with proton-conducting polymer membrane

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