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MSE Dissertation Work Recognized through ACS Cover

An interdisciplinary team literally spanning the University of Tennessee, from the Materials Science & Engineering department in Ferris Hall on the East side of the Knoxville campus to the Center for Renewable Carbon (CRC) in the UT Institute of Agriculture on the west side of campus, have recently published a paper describing the structural evolution of lignin, an abundant renewable feedstock, as it is processed into nanocrystalline graphite, suitable for high-performance battery anodes.  Their work is depicted on the cover (shown above) in which the crown of the tree is represented by an atomic model of the carbon-carbon composite with nanographitic crystalline and amorphous domains. At the base of the tree in the grass are molecular representations of lignin structures.
This work was performed as part of the PhD dissertation of Dr. Valerie García-Negrón (class of 2020), co-advised by Prof. David Harper (CRC) and Prof. David Keffer (MSE) and is a collaboration with Prof. Steve Chmely at Pennsylvania State University and Dr. Jan Ilavsky of Argonne National Laboratory.  This cover was made possible through the help of Dr. Orlando Rios. Not only does Dr. Valerie García-Negrón’s research span institutions, but it also unites research methods, joining experimental synthesis and characterization with computational modeling.
For those interested, the link to the full article is here:
García-Negrón, V., Chmely, S., Ilavsky, J., Keffer, D.J., Harper, D.P., “Development of Nano-crystalline Graphite from Lignin Sources”, ACS Sustainable Chem. Eng. 10(5) 2022 pp. 1786-1794, doi: