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Donna McCracken

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This Year



UIS chemistry professor receives Research Corporation grant

June 22, 2004

SPRINGFIELD - Keenan Dungey, assistant professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Springfield, has received a $33,500 grant through the Cottrell College Science Awards program of Research Corporation. Dungey’s award is one of only 51 presented this spring to faculty at colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.

Cottrell awards support ideas independently proposed by faculty and are made on the basis of scientific originality, significance, feasibility, and sustainability. Research efforts must also involve undergraduate students in meaningful ways.

Dungey’s project is an exploration of porous heterobimetallic oxides for energy storage, or chemical methods for improving lithium ion battery performance.

Lithium ion batteries are commonly used in a variety of portable electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptops. “The positive electrode of the battery is a lithium cobalt oxide material and one of the factors that need to be improved is the time required for the battery to recharge,” said Dungey.

“During the recharge cycle, lithium ions move out of the cobalt oxide cathode material by ionic conduction. We will increase the interlayer spacing in the cobalt oxide host, which would decrease steric barriers to lithium ion diffusion. Increased lithium ion conductivity will decrease the time needed for the battery to recharge in comparison with lithium cobalt oxide prepared by other routes,” he explained.

In the project, undergraduate UIS students working in collaboration with Dr. Pingyun Feng at the University of California-Riverside will prepare polyoxometalate-pillared lithium cobalt oxide and determine its ionic conductivity.

As part of the award, UIS will also receive a new UV/Vis absorption spectrophotometer, which will be used during the project to characterize the oxidation state and coordination environment of the cobalt in the solid materials. The instrument will also be used in other upper-level undergraduate laboratory courses.

Founded in 1912 and based in Tucson, Arizona, Research Corporation is a private foundation that aids basic research in the physical sciences – especially astronomy, chemistry, and physics – at predominantly undergraduate institutions. Awards challenge faculty to explore new scientific areas, make discoveries that contribute to their disciplines, and initiate research programs that can be sustained by other funding sources as well as by institutional support. Endeavors funded by these awards typically spill over into the teaching of the faculty members involved, thereby improving the quality of undergraduate education.

Cottrell College Awards were established in 1971 and are named in honor of Research Corporation founder Frederick Gardner Cottrell. Spring 2004 awards totaled more than $1.8 million.

Dungey earned the Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and was a post-doctoral fellow at Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina. His research interests focus on inorganic materials chemistry.

UIS’ Chemistry program is accredited by the American Chemical Society's Committee on Professional Training and awards the bachelor of science degree.

For more information on the UIS project, contact Dungey at 206-7345. For more information about Research Corporation, visit their website at
    The University of Illinois at Springfield, one of three U of I campuses, is a small, public liberal arts university that offers 40 degree programs – 20 bachelor’s, 19 master’s, and the Doctorate of Public Administration. UIS has a special mission in public affairs and service and is known for extraordinary internships, a wireless campus, extensive online offerings, and a commitment to teaching.