Kenneth Hernandez-Burgos



  • 5221 Beckman Institute
  • 405 North Mathews Avenue
  • Urbana, Illinois 61801


Dr. Kenneth Hernández-Burgos was born in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. In 2010, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico at Río Piedras (UPR-RP). During his time at UPR-RP, he was a Minority Access for Research Careers fellow and investigated the electrochemical and spectrochemical properties of ferrocene derivatives under the supervision of Prof. Ana R. Guadalupe for 2 years. He earned his Ph.D. in the department of chemistry and chemical biology at Cornell University advised by Prof. Héctor D. Abruña. During that time, he mastered the design and characterization of organic electrode materials for electrical energy storage applications. In graduate school, Kenneth was awarded the Young Investigator Award for the best energy research proposal by the Energy Materials Center at Cornell. In addition, he was also inducted into the Cornell chapter of the Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society, which recognizes outstanding scholarly achievement and promotes diversity and excellence in doctoral education. Currently, as a Beckman Postdoctoral Fellow, Kenneth is conducting his research in the Rodríguez-López lab, where he expands his research to the design and characterization of redox-active polymers (RAPs) for redox flow batteries. The main goal of these studies is to understand the properties of high molecular weight RAPs with different redox-active centers and learn how their structure and redox behavior condition their performance. During his postdoctoral career, he was honored with multiple awards and distinctions including the Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship and the Norman Hackerman Young Author Award.


  • Norman Hackerman Young Author award, June 2017
  • Beckman Research Fellowship, 2016 (Postdoctoral Fellow), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,  June 2016
  • Postdoctoral Scholar of the AGEP-PAI, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, April 2016
  • Edward A. Bouchet Graduate Honor Society (Cornell University Chapter, Class of 2015), April 2015
  • Young Investigator Award (Energy Material Center at Cornell), May 2013         
  • Bayer Teaching Excellence Award (Cornell University), May 2012
  • Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) Fellowship, June 2008-May 2010


An important challenge for enabling the wide-spread utilization of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind, consists in the development of high-efficiency, low-cost, high-energy density, safe and environmentally benign electrochemical energy storage (EES) technologies. Among EES technologies, secondary batteries, especially redox flow batteries (RFB), represent some of the best options for grid storage applications. A major challenge in redox flow batteries is the crossover of the anolyte and catholyte through the ion selective membrane. A way to enhance the performance of RFB is to use organic solvents as your solvent of preference. Non-aqueous Redox Flow Batteries (NRFBs) offer a wider electrochemical window than their aqueous counter-parts, thus enabling the use of a large variety of energy dense redox species. NRFBs are a promising technology because they are inexpensive and scalable energy storage solutions for load leveling. It’s been show in recent reports of our group that by using redox active polymers (RAPs) in combination with size excluding membranes (instead ion selective membrane) are promising alternatives to use as catholyte and anolytes for this technology. Presently, measuring the electron transfer kinetics of large mediators with hundreds to thousands of redox active centers is not well understood. My research focuses on the different electrochemical techniques that we have used for the characterization of RAPs. We have utilized techniques such as scanning electrochemical microscopy, cyclic voltammetry, bulk electrolysis, spectroelectrochemistry and rotating disk electrode voltammetry to study the redox properties, kinetic of electron transfer, self-exchange of electrons through the redox pendants in the polymers and the mechanism of electron transfer. From these studies we learned that charge hopping and electron self-exchange between neighboring pendants impact the charge/discharge performance of redox active polymers (RAPs). However, there is a limit to how close pendants should be brought together. Limitations in counter-ion transport towards buried redox groups upon electron transfer and the well-known formation of irreversible dimers from radical species, which are favored at short inter-pendant distance, could adversely impact polymer charge storage performance. The present/on-going studies give us the necessary fundamental tools to understand and act on charge transfer effects that we need to improve the performance for RAPs and give us the knowledge to design new and better performing polymers.


  • 2017
    • Gossage, Z. T.&; Schor, N. B.&; Hernández-Burgos, K.; Hui, J.; Simpson, B. H.; Montoto, E. C.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-López, J., “Interrogating Charge Storage on Redox Active Colloids via Combined Raman Spectroscopy and Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy” Langmuir Accepted (2017).
  • 2016
    • Montoto, E. C.&; Nagarjuna, G.&; Hui, J.; Burgess, M.; Sekerak N. M.; Hernández-Burgos, K.; Kneer, M.; Grolman, J. M.; Cheng, K. J.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-López, J., “Redox Active Colloids as Discrete Energy Storage Carriers” J. Am. Chem. Soc., (2016), 138, 13230.
    • Burgess, M.&; Chenard, E.&; Hernández-Burgos, K.&; Nagarjuna, G.; Assary, R.; Hui, J.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-López, J. “Exploring Charge Transport Enhancements in Redox Active Macromolecular Architectures via Optimization of Tether Length and Structure” Chem. Mater., (2016), 28, 7362.
    • Burgess, M.; Hernández-Burgos, K.; Cheng, K. J.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-López, J., “Impact of Electrolyte Composition on the Reactivity of a Redox Active Polymer Studied through Surface Interrogation and Ion-Sensitive Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy” Analyst, 2016, 141, 3842-3850.
    • Burgess, M.; Hernández-Burgos, K.; Simpson, B. H.; Lichtenstein, T.; Avetian, S.; Nagarjuna, G.; Cheng, K. J.; Moore, J. S.; Rodríguez-López, J., “Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy and Hydrodynamic Volt-ammetry Investigation of Charge Transfer Mechanisms on Redox Active Polymers” Journal of the Electrochemical Society, (2016), 4, H3006.
  • 2015
    • DeBlase, C. R&; Hernandez-Burgos, K&; Rotter, J. M.; Fortman, D. J.; Abruña, H. D.; Dichtel, W. R., “Cation-Dependent Stabilization of Electrogenerated Naphthalene Diimide Dianions in Porous Polymer Thin Films and Their Application to Electrical Energy Storage” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., (2015), 54, 13225.
  • 2013
    • Hernández-Burgos, K; Rodríguez-Calero, G. G.; Zhou, W.; Burkhardt, S. E.; and Abruña, H. D.; “Increasing the gravimetric energy density of secondary battery cathodes using small radii cations” Journal of the American Chemical Society (2013), 135, 14532.


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