School of Molecular Sciences, Arizona State University
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Austen Angell is best known for his work on supercooled liquids and the glass transition, and has been the recipient of four internationally contested awards in this area (the Morey Award of the American Ceramic Society, and the Mott Award of the Journal of Non-Crystalline Solids, the Hildebrand award of American Chemical Society, and the Mott award of the Materials Research Society, all for the development of the \"strong and fragile liquids\" classification). His work on the extraordinary behavior of supercooled water and aqueous solutions is particularly well known. Besides these subjects, he has worked on the problem of glassy electrolytes (while at Purdue University) and on non-aqueous solvents for Li battery electrolytes and on polymer-based, or polymer-containing, lithium battery electrolytes (while at Arizona State University). He is credited with the development of the \"fragility\" concept for liquids in general, the \"decoupling index\" concept for characterizing the freedom of conducting species to move independent of the supporting medium (liquid, polymer or glass), and with the \"polymer-in-salt\" concept for high decoupling index non-glassy lithium battery electrolytes. His group has developed the widest electrochemical window solvent on record (ethyl-methyl sulfone, 5.9 V) and the most completely dissociating salt on record (LiBOB) according to high temperature dilute solution studies.
In this group, a wide range of physical measurements on liquid structure, transport properties and thermodynamic characteristics are carried out, with emphasis on metastable (supercooled, superpressurized) or stretched state behavior. One branch of this program focuses attention on microsample techniques for studying the physical properties of supercooled and stretched (negative pressure) states of common molecular liquids such as H2O, benzene, and CCL4, which normally can only be studied above their melting points. At the other extreme, computer simulation studies using sophisticated multicomponent molecular dynamics programs are used to study liquid silicates and glasses under extreme conditions: also the stability limits of crystalline materials on compression and stretching.
A major component of the group's research at the moment involves synthesis and characterization of new, highly stable, electrolytes and polymers for applications in electrochemical power systems. The group has five patents granted or pending and collaborates with a Tucson company involved in manufacture of rechargeable batteries for mobile phones and related purposes.
Most recently, the group has become involved in glass-glass phase transitions and the relations between unexpected phase transitions in supercooled liquid water and major structural changes in biopolymers (see article in Science 1995). For information on current research activities please check out our current abstracts on the menu--you will need Adobe Acrobat, or equivalent to read these.