Leo W. Gordon

Interested in NMR techniques for studying energy storage and carbon capture systems.


Materials Research Laboratory, Room 3115, UCSB


+1 (917) 742-7804

Curriculum Vitae

I am a postdoctoral scholar in the Clément group at UC Santa Barbara where I investigate ion transport processes in polymeric materials using NMR methodologies such as pulsed-field gradient and electrophoretic NMR. I recently completed my Ph.D. research at The City College of New York (CCNY) working in the field of energy storage materials where I was advised by Prof. Robert J. Messinger.

The primary focus of my Ph.D. was using NMR characterisation techniques to determine charge storage mechanisms and to understand electrolyte speciation. Solid-state NMR is my main tool for investigating charge storage, which I apply to understand ionic and electronic charge storage mechanisms in organic electrodes for rechargeable aluminium batteries. I also have expertise in liquid NMR, which I have demonstrated through my work on lithium metal battery electrolytes, along with molten salt electrolytes for aluminum batteries. I have further interests in metal anode surface chemistries, lithium cathode recycling, and the nuances of charge storage with different molten salt electrolyte speciations. My central PhD work has culminated in publications including articles in the Journal of Physical Chemistry C, ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, and the Journal of Magnetic Resonance.

Before joining the Chemical Engineering department at CCNY, I attained an integrated Masters degree in Chemistry (MChem) from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. During my thesis research I worked to develop and understand novel designs for multi-microelectrode arrays for electrochemical sensing applications. Also during the bachelors portion of my degree, I briefly investigated dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) using plant derived dyes, targeting low-cost and minimally corrosive materials.

In my free time I enjoy bouldering to keep fit, and to make time-saving GUI programs to process data - many of which can be found on my GitHub profile!


Mar 24, 2023 Today I sucessfully defended my PhD thesis “Molecular Elucidation of Reaction Mechanisms in Aluminum and Lithium Metal Batteries by Solid-State NMR Spectroscopy and Electrochemical Methods”. My PhD journey has been a greatly enjoyable 5 years and I have far too many people to thank for getting me to this point. However, I must acknowledge my committee members, Prof. Alex Couzis, Prof. Ruth Stark, Prof. George John, Prof. Elizabeth Biddinger, and my advisor Prof. Robert Messinger for their great support today. Special thanks to Rob for all the hard work we put in together!
Feb 27, 2023 The latest work from our group “Reversible Zinc Electrodeposition at −60 °C Using a Deep Eutectic Electrolyte for Low-Temperature Zinc Metal Batteries” was published today. In this work we demonstrate an electrolyte with a deep-eutectic point to enable reversible zinc electrodeposition down to temperatures of -60 °C. We make 0.1 M Zn(TFSI)2 electrolytes in different ratios of [EMIm]TFSI with gamma-butyrolactone (GBL) which are probed electrochemically to determine their macroscopic properties, and further analysed at the molecular level via NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics (MD) simulations to explain the differences in performance from an atomistic approach.
Jan 25, 2023 Our new study of aluminium-organic batteries, entitled “Revealing Impacts of Electrolyte Speciation on Ionic Charge Storage in Aluminum-Quinone Batteries by NMR Spectroscopy”, is now out in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance. This is a detailed analysis of the ionic charge storage mechanisms in aluminium-quinone batteries where we begin by detailing the speciation of three different Lewis acidic ionic liquid/ionic liquid analogue electrolytes by liquid-state NMR, we then use solid-state NMR to determine the nature of the complexed ions upon electrochemical discharge in each electrolyte. We further use DFT calculations to both determine the most favorable electroactive cation generation pathways and to link the experimentally derived NMR quadrupolar parameters to a physical basis of ion interaction with different quinone structures. Finally, we also validate our hypothesised mechanisms with targeted experiments, proving the function of various ionic species.
Sep 28, 2022 The 4th battery and energy storage conference, taking place this year in CUNY’s very own Advanced Science and Research Center building, was a fast-paced and highly engaging few days. Great talks from many people with a variety of topics - from space applications, to cutting edge recycling techniques.
Sep 13, 2022 ECS 2022 was a nice conference with lots of engaging talks, including from Nobel Laureate Prof. Stan Whittingham, who even stopped by the student mixer to mingle with the student members of ECS. It was great to meet a lot of new people, especially finally being able to meet people in person.

Selected Publications

  1. Revealing impacts of electrolyte speciation on ionic charge storage in aluminum-quinone batteries by NMR spectroscopy
    Leo W Gordon, Jonah Wang, and Robert J Messinger
    Journal of Magnetic Resonance

    Mar 2023

  2. Molecular-Scale Elucidation of Ionic Charge Storage Mechanisms in Rechargeable Aluminum–Quinone Batteries
    Leo W. Gordon, Ankur L. Jadhav, Mikhail Miroshnikov, Theresa Schoetz, George John, and Robert J. Messinger
    The Journal of Physical Chemistry C

    Aug 2022

  3. Performance Leap of Lithium Metal Batteries in LiPF6 Carbonate Electrolyte by a Phosphorus Pentoxide Acid Scavenger
    Jian Zhang, Jiayan Shi,  Leo W. Gordon, Nastaran Shojarazavi, Xiaoyu Wen, Yifan Zhao, Jianjun Chen, Chi-Cheung Su, Robert J. Messinger, and Juchen Guo
    ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces

    Aug 2022

  4. Soluble Electrolyte-Coordinated Sulfide Species Revealed in Al–S Batteries by Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
    Rahul Jay, Ankur L. Jadhav,  Leo W. Gordon, and Robert J. Messinger
    Chemistry of Materials

    May 2022

  5. Disentangling Faradaic, Pseudocapacitive, and Capacitive Charge Storage: A Tutorial for the Characterization of Batteries, Supercapacitors, and Hybrid Systems
    T. Schoetz,  L.W. Gordon, S. Ivanov, A. Bund, D. Mandler, and R.J. Messinger
    Electrochimica Acta

    Apr 2022