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NEWS | June 25, 2014

NRL's Dr. Jeffrey Long Selected as Inaugural DoD Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter

By Donna McKinney

Dr. Jeffrey W. Long, staff scientist in the Surface Chemistry Branch of the Chemistry Division, has been selected as the first recipient of the Department of Defense's Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter Award. Mr. Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistic, presented the award in a special ceremony at the Pentagon on April 18. Also in attendance were Mr. Alan Shaffer (Principal Deputy, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering), Dr. John Fischer (Director, Defense Laboratories Enterprise), Rear Admiral Matthew Klunder (Chief of Naval Research), as well as Dr. Long's entire NRL chain of command. The Laboratory Scientist of the Quarter Award was recently established to recognize outstanding achievement by mid-career individuals within the Department of Defense science and technology work force.

Dr. Long engages in basic and early applied research projects at the NRL that focus on the development, characterization and validation of advanced nanostructured materials that enhance the performance of military-critical technologies ranging from electrochemical power sources to air filtration. The present award specifically recognizes Dr. Long's advancements in the field of electrochemical energy storage (EES), where his recent work has centered on redesigning the electrodes used in electrochemical capacitors (a.k.a., supercapacitors) and Zn-air batteries to impart unprecedented pulse-power capability, efficiency, and rechargeability.

A fundamental roadblock in advancing EES for pulse power has been retention of a high-power capability in the electrochemical device, while simultaneously increasing areal-specific energy storage. Dr. Long was the first to recognize this could be accomplished by using self-limiting deposition protocols to apply nanometers-thick conformal coatings of charge-storing materials (electroactive polymers or metal oxides) at the surfaces of ultraporous carbon nanofoam scaffolds. His innovation made it possible to rapidly charge and discharge these otherwise modest electron conductors (the oxide or polymer) by maintaining nanoscale proximity to the highly conductive network of the carbon nanofoam and ensuring efficient electrolyte flux via the through-connected pore network of the nanofoam. He is currently building prototype electrochemical capacitors comprising manganese and iron oxide-modified nanofoams as the active positive and negative electrodes, respectively, and a moderate-pH aqueous electrolyte in a device that can supply tens of Farads of capacitance in seconds, operating over a 2-Volt window.

Dr. Long further recognized that lessons learned from the development of electrochemical capacitors could be extended to the redesign of the air-breathing cathode used in the Zn-air battery, a military-validated portable power source that is highly desired because of its excellent energy density and safety. Using nanoscale manganese oxide on carbon nanofoams to provide a repository of charge capacity, Long and his colleagues demonstrated that true pulse-power bursts can be delivered from thier redesigned air cathode, even under conditions where oxygen supply is temporarily disrupted. This new dual function air cathode solves one of the remaining roadblocks to realizing high-performance Zn-air batteries.

Dr. Long received his bachelor's degree in Chemistry from Wake Forest University in 1992, and his doctorate in Chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1997. He came to NRL as a National Research Council Postdoctoral Associate in 1997, working with Dr. Debra Rolison. He was hired as a staff scientist in the Advanced Electrochemical Section in 2000. While at the NRL he has served as principal investigator, co-principal investigator, and team member on multiple internal NRL programs and on external projects supported by Office of Naval Research, Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. Other notable recognition includes the Edison Patent Award (2012), Berman Publication Awards (2000, 2010, 2013), the R. A. Glenn Award (2007) and A. K. Doolittle Award (2009) from the American Chemical Society, Young Investigator awards from the NRL-Edison Chapter of Sigma Xi (2004), the Society for Electroanalytical Chemistry (2004), and the 6th International Symposium on Aerogels (2000).

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