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February: Dominic Bresser (KIT-HIU)

Dominic Bresser completed his doctorate at the MEET Battery Research Center in Münster. Since 2020, he has headed the Electrochemical Energy Storage Materials research group at the Helmholtz Institute Ulm. In 2022, he received the prestigious ERC Starting Grant for the development of novel electrode materials from the European Research Council. We spoke to him about his research and his motivation.


What are you currently working on?

Dominic Bresser: My group and I are working on the investigation and development of advanced electrochemical energy storage systems. We focus especially on the development of new and the improvement of existing electrode materials and electrolyte systems for lithium and sodium batteries and related energy storage technologies. In particular, the goal is to develop a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms and processes that enable and determine the reversible storage of charge carriers and their transport in the electrolyte. In this way, our work combines fundamental research, funded, e.g., by the DFG, private foundations and an ERC Starting Grant, with very applied research, supported and funded, e.g., by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and various industrial companies. The goal is always to improve the electrochemical energy storage devices as a whole.

What is your personal motivation?

Dominic Bresser: Batteries play a central role for the successful energy transition toward a more sustainable future - for us and for future generations. However, this requires constant improvements to the already very successful energy storage technologies as well as the development of new technologies. This concerns energy and power density, as well as the cost and sustainability of batteries. Being allowed to participate in this is a central motivation for me. In addition, there is the simple scientific curiosity, the desire to understand things better, the opportunity to work with many excellent scientists around the world, and not least the daily work with the students, doctoral candidates and postdocs, for which I am very grateful.

What kind of challenges are you facing in the near future?

Dominic Bresser: One of the key challenges is successful time management. My group has grown a lot recently and new tasks are continually being added. Fulfilling all of these satisfactorily and at the same time being responsive to the needs and aspirations of all as far as possible is not always easy; in this context, I am very grateful to my colleagues for their kind understanding when things take a little longer once in a while.

If you could make a wish for something for your research, what would you wish for?

Dominic Bresser: In view of the great success of lithium batteries, as well as increasingly also sodium batteries, one of the major challenges will be maintaining the balance between and closely combining fundamental and applied research. While it is important that academic research in this field is oriented toward industry needs, there should always also be the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of materials and mechanisms and to explore new materials and technologies, as we frequently do not know what may be possible 10, 20, or 30 years from now. Many very successful technologies are based on scientific and technological breakthroughs that were initially unimaginable, but thanks to scientists and engineers who never gave up working on these topics they finally turned commercial at some point – sometimes many years or even decades later.

Where do you see your discipline in 5-10 years?

Dominic Bresser: Battery research has always been very interdisciplinary already and I expect this to further increase in the coming years. In fact, it is simply necessary for the improvement of the current materials and components as well as the development of new ones. Generally, I think that the progress will follow a rather steady evolution, just like the basically linear improvement of commercial battery technologies and systems within the last 30 years and unlike the anticipated, almost exponentially increasing demand for efficient and powerful batteries for a wide variety of current and future applications.

ORCID: 0000-0001-6429-6048