Faculty Biography

Sergio Granados-Focil

Sergio Granados-Focil, Ph.D.

Synthetic Polymer Chemistry, Materials for Renewable Energy Alternatives

Professor of Chemistry

Department of Chemistry
Clark University
Worcester, MA 01610-1477

Office: S225, Sackler Sciences Center
Phone: 508-793-7375
E-mail: sgranadosfocil@clarku.edu

Curriculum Vitae
Research Lab Website


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Ph.D. Case Western Reserve University, 2005
M.S. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2001
B.S. Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, 2000

Current Research Interests

Current research projects in the Granados-Focil group focus on polymer chemistry to produce materials that exhibit different types of selective transport through polymeric matrices.

1.    An integrated study of ion dynamics and population distributions to understand the molecular underpinnings of charge transport through self-assembled solid polymer electrolytes (currently funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation).

Access to mechanically robust solid polymer electrolytes with ion mobilities comparable to those of liquid electrolytes constitutes a significant barrier for the development of the high-performance lithium batteries required for the widespread use of electricity produced from renewable sources. This research effort focuses on understanding the fundamental aspects of ion diffusion through nanostructured polymeric matrices, and on using these insights to guide the design of solid polymer electrolytes for high power density lithium batteries.

2.    Adaptive Building Enclosure Systems Using Cellular Solid-Solid Phase Change Materials with Variable Transparency. (currently funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation).

Buildings are responsible for about 40% of US energy consumption; a significant fraction of this energy is needed to counter thermal losses or gains occurring trough the building envelope. We seek to develop an innovative passive solar building enclosure system that uses cellular solid-solid phase change materials (PCM) with variable transparency. Our systems not only improve building interior thermal comfort, but also reduce energy use by changing its properties in response to external stimuli.

3.  Thermal battery systems for garments. (currently funded by the U.S. Department of Defense).

When conducting missions in cold weather environments, troops can face a host of weather-related challenges, ranging from numb skin to hypothermia and frostbite that hinder their task performance or even threaten their limbs or lives. Therefore, it is extremely important to provide thermal extremity protection for troops operating in extreme conditions. This project aims to develop a sorbent-thermo-responsive polymer thermal battery without the use of power, which can store and deliver heat to a solider on demand with material-enabled, passive control mechanisms.

4.  CO2 Separation Mediated By Proton-Coupled Electron Transfer

Increasing global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the use of fossil fuels in energy conversion processes threatens to accelerate climate change and its associated deleterious effects on human civilization. Since the need to remove significant amounts of this greenhouse gas directly from air has become more urgent, advancing its electrochemical capture in a way that can be achieved at both point sources and the atmosphere could enable breakthrough real-world applications in carbon capture, utilization and storage.

5.    Synthesis of low-cost non-perfluorinated ion conducting membranes for organic redox flow batteries.

Low-cost, highly selective, ion-conducting membranes, are prepared from a new class of sulfonated polyphenylenes. The proton conductivity of these membranes has been measured to be at least 2-4 times higher than Nafion 212. These macromolecules organize into lyotropic liquid crystalline structures with sulfonate-lined hydrated channels that vary in size between 0.8 nm and 2 nm. This channel structure exhibits high selectivity towards solvated ions and excluding larger species, resulting in better device performance.

Selected recent publications

 Xiao, Z., Mishra, P., Nejad, A.M., Tao, M., Granados-Foci, S., Van Dessel, S., Energy and Buildings, 2021, 247, 111129. Link

Zhang Z. #, Tompsett, G.A., Lambert, C., Granados-Focil, S., Timko, M.T., Rational Design of Solid-Acid Catalysts for Cellulose Hydrolysis Using Colloidal Theory, Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2021, 23 (17), 10236. Link

Van Dessel, S., Tao, M., Granados-Focil, S., Thermal storage system. U.S. Patent 2021, 10,995,250 Link

Cheng F. #, Tompsett, G.A., Fraga-Alvarez, D.V. *, Romo C. I., McKenna, A.M., Niles, S., Nelson, R.K., Reddy, C.M., Granados-Focil, S., Paulsen A.D., Zhang, R., Timko, M.T., Metal oxide supported Ni-impregnated bifunctional catalysts for controlling char formation and maximizing energy recovery during catalytic hydrothermal liquefaction of food waste. Sustainable Energy & Fuels2020, 5(4), 941. Link 

Mendes, J.L. *, Gao, W., Martin, J.L. #, Carl, A. D. #, Deskins, N. A., Granados-Focil, S., Grimm, R.L.  Interfacial states, energetics, and atmospheric stability of large-grain antifluorite Cs2TiBr6. Journal of Physical Chemistry C., 2020 124, 44, 24289. Link

Martin J.L. #, Soflet, R. *, Carl, A.D. #, Himmelberger, K. M. *, Granados-Focil, S. Grimm, R.L., Quantification of surface reactivity and step-selective etching chemistry on single-crystal BiOI (001). Langmuir, 2020, 36, 9343. Link

Mishra, P.,K., Stockmal, K.A., Ardito, G., Tao, M., Van Dessel, S., Granados-Focil, S., Optical

and thermal properties of selected solid-liquid phase-change materials. Solar Energy, 2020, 197222. Link

Dillingham, P.W., Alsedi, B.S.O., Granados-Focil S., Radu, A., McGraw, C., Establishing meaningful limits of detection for ion-selective electrodes and other non-linear sensors. 
ACS Sensors, 2020, 5, 250  

Crespilho, F.N., Sedenho, G.C., De Porcellinis, D., Kerr, E., Granados-Focil, S., Gordon, R.G., Aziz, M.J., Non-corrosive, Low toxicity, Gel-based Microbattery from Organic and  Organometallic Molecules, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, 2019, 7, 24784. Link

Yu, X.#; Burnham, N., Granados-Focil, S.; Tao, M.; Bitumen’s microstructures are correlated with its bulk thermal and rheological properties. FUEL, 2019, 254, 115509, Link

Zhang, M. #, Zhao, M. #, Zhang, G., Sietnis, J. M., Granados-Focil, S., Pepi, M. S., Xu, Y., Tao, M., and Granados-Focil, S. Reaction kinetics of red mud-fly ash based geoplymers: Effects of curing temperature on chemical bonding, porosity, and mechanical strength, Cement and Concrete Composites, 2018, 93, 175-185   Link

De Porcellinis, D., Mecheri, B., D’Epifanio, A., Licoccia, S., Granados-Focil, S., Aziz, M.J. Sulfonated Poly (ether ether ketone) as cation exchange membrane for alkaline redox flow batteries, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, 2018, 165 (5), A1137-A1139. Link

Guldentops, G.#, Ardito, G.#, Tao, M., Granados-Focil, S., Van Dessel, S.,  A numerical study of adaptive building enclosure systems using solid-solid phase change materials with variable transparency. Energy and Buildings, 2018, 167, 240-252. Link

Tyufekchiev, M.; Duan, P.; Schmidt-Rohr, K.; Granados-Focil, S.; Timko, M.T.; Emmert, M., Cellulase-Mimetic Solid Acids for Cellulose Hydrolysis: Structural Explanations for High Catalytic Activity, ACS Catalysis. 2018,  8, 1464-1468. Link

Fallahi, A., Guldentops, G., Tao, M., Granados-Focil, S., Van Dessel, S., Review on solid-solid phase change materials for thermal energy storage: Molecular structure and thermal properties. Applied Thermal Engineering, 2017, 127, 1427-1441. Link

Wei, J.,# Trout, W.,* Simon, Y., Granados-Focil S., Ring Opening Metathesis Polymerization of Triazole-Bearing Cyclobutenes: Diblock copolymer synthesis and evaluation of the effect of side group size on polymerization kinetics.  Journal of Polymer  Science Part A, Chemistry, 2017, 55 (11) 1929-1939Link

Nguyen, C-T., Deshmukh, P., Chen X. #, Granados-Focil, S., Kasi, R., Thermoreversible Ion gels from side-chain liquid crystalline brush diblock copolymers, in Functional Polymers, Design, Synthesis and Applications, edited by Raja Shunmugam, CRC press, Taylor and Francis, 2017, 241-263. Link

Mendecki, L., Chen, X., Callan, N., Thompson, D. F., Schazmann, B., Granados-Focil, S., Radu, A.,  Simple, Robust, and Plasticizer-Free Iodide-selective Sensor Based on Copolymerized  Triazole-based Ionic Liquid. Analytical Chemistry, 2016, 88 (8), 4311. Link

Granados-Focil, S. Stimuli-responsive polymers as active layers for sensors, Functional Polymer Coatings: Principles, Methods, and Applications, First Edition. Edited  by Limin Wu and Jamil Baghdachi, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015Link

Doyle, R., P. Chen, X., Macrae, M., Srungavarapu, A., and Granados-Foci, S., Poly-  (ethylene-imine)-based polymer blends as lithium single-ion conductors. Macromolecules,   2014, 47, 3401. Link