Burcu Gurkan

Nord Distinguished Associate Professor
Department of Chemical Engineering
Case School of Engineering

Research Information

Research Interests

Our research program is built on developing experimental approaches to understand the physical, electrochemical and transport properties of ionic liquids and deep eutectic solvents, and applying these fundamentals to electrochemical processes, separations, and sensors. Our work has three research pillars: 

  1. Solvation and transport in complex fluids;
  2. Electrode-electrolyte interfaces;
  3. Material synthesis and fabrication.

Solvation and Transport in Complex Fluids: Ionic liquids, deep eutectic solvents and similarly concentrated electrolytes present new capabilities and opportunities in electrochemical energy storage such as access to wide range of soluble charge carriers at high concentrations, improved electrochemical stability and storage capacity, reduced flammability and volatility. In such complex electrolytes, the ion solvation structure and transport mechanism differ from ideal electrolytes which are dilute and often binary. We aim to develop an understanding of these different mechanisms and specifically investigate how the partial solvation of a solute ion by different counter ions and ligand exchanges impact the solvation structure and ion transport in complex fluids.

Electrode-electrolyte Interfaces: We are developing approaches that simultaneously apply electroanalytical techniques, surface enhanced spectroscopy and reflectivity techniques to probe the interfacial structure of complex electrolytes that are pertinent to energy storage devices, advanced sensors, and electrocatalytic processes.

Our work in the area of solvation, transport and interfaces specific to deep eutectic solvents is part of a greater effort by BEES (Breakthrough Electrolytes for Energy Storage) – an Energy Frontier Research Center.

Materials Synthesis and Fabrication: While this research pillar supports many of the projects, our main effort is the development of engineered materials for separations, conversions and sensors. Our unique contribution in the field of CO2 separations addresses the low absorption capacity of existing materials for direct air capture, inadequate gas-liquid surface area and leaching of liquid from its support upon variable pressures and in microgravity. Specifically, we are developing functional and highly selective solvents, and incorporating into polymeric architectures for applications in absorption, adsorption, membrane separations, and potentially adaptable for capture and conversion processes. One aspect of this work is the encapsulation of selective solvents in collaboration with Prof. Emily Pentzer. As we develop highly selective solvents and materials with the understanding of structure-property relations, we combine these with the highly sensitive metamaterials and photonic nanostructures to develop miniaturized chemical sensors with our collaborators: Profs. Michael HinczewskiGuiseppe Strangi and Umut Gurkan


Last updated: June 11, 2020. See Google Scholar page for the most current and complete list of publications