By: Olivia Ortegon and Ben Donohue
Dr. Naba Karan recently joined UConn as an Assistant Research Professor at the Center for Clean Energy Engineering (C2E2). Dr. Karan previously worked at alpha-En Corporation, a lithium metal battery start-up company in Yonkers, New York until February 2021. There, he focused on the development of process parameters optimization and scalability of lithium metal thin film (electro) deposition for the next generation of lithium batteries. Dr. Karan is excited to have joined C2E2 as it gives him an opportunity to start learning about C2E2’s research activities on fuel cells as well as to expand his research work on lithium (ion) batteries.
When asked why he joined UConn, Dr. Karan explained, “UConn is a great school and C2E2 is a renowned place for cutting edge energy research”. He also shared that his wife, Dr. Menka Jain, is an Associate Professor of Physics at UConn, and she assisted him with the transition into his new position. Additionally, Dr. Karan’s previous experiences make him a good fit for C2E2’s research objectives. His focus, in the long term, will be to expand on the existing electrochemical energy storage related to R&D activities at C2E2. He will spend his initial months learning as much about fuel cell-related projects aiming to maintain a collaborative experience while at C2E2.
Dr. Karan received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at the University of Calcutta and later a PhD in Material Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Science. Being able to solve problems from a multitude of different angles and avenues as well as applying different principles to them highlights what made Dr. Karan interested in the field of science and engineering. The need to come up with better designs and allocation of energy transition is what drives his research. Dr. Karan believes that this is inevitable in the future, and this field of research has the potential to address future global energy demand issues in a sustainable way.
The global energy landscape is still dominated by fossil fuels. Arguably, the only way forward, to simultaneously meet consistently increasing global energy demand and to mitigate the adverse environmental issues of burning fossil fuels, will be mass scale adoption of renewable sources. Advancement in energy storage technologies is critically important for a successful transition to a sustainable-renewable energy future. Through his research, Dr. Karan aims to contribute toward the advancements of various electrochemical energy storage technologies to address the sustainability issue for mass scale adoption of renewable sources.
Dr. Karan’s research interests lie in mechanistic understanding of various components’ structural evolution in batteries with an aim to establish a synthesis-structure-property-performance relationship that will eventually lead to the designs for better batteries. His advice to the potential pursuers of energy/clean energy engineering is to be curious. Curiosity coupled with determination puts you in a good position to succeed.
Dr. Karan shares his advice to students interested in clean energy research “Be curious about everything. People can guide you, but you must take the initiative to be curious and learn new things. If you have the drive and determination as well as the curiosity, you are good to go.”