Chemistry at Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joaquín Rodríguez-López

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Professor Joaquín Rodríguez-López received his Ph.D. in analytical chemistry from the University of Texas at Austin working under the supervision of Prof. Allen J. Bard. He then did a post-doctoral stay at Cornell University in the laboratory of Prof. Héctor D. Abruña. He joined the University of Illinois faculty in Fall of 2012. He is interested in the study of the reactive heterogeneity in electrodes using Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) and in methods of electrochemical analysis such as the ion transfer across liquid-liquid interfaces (ITIES) and electrogenerated chemiluminescence (ECL). Joaquín is a native of Mexico and obtained his B.Sc. at the Tecnológico de Monterrey in north Mexico. He enjoys participating in outreach activities and wishes to set up a vibrant, highly motivating and rewarding research environment in his laboratory. 



Electrochemistry plays a central role in developing technologies for energy storage and conversion such as batteries, fuel cells and photoelectrochemical systems. These devices play a major role in our ability as a society to face the challenges posed by a changing and increasingly demanding energy scenario (e.g. in the amount and type of resources and their population reach). The analysis, quantification, and unraveling of several fundamental properties of these systems, many of which lack adequate in situ analytical methods, would impact positively our ability to understand, manipulate, and design better technologies. For example, the performance of electrocatalysts in fuel cells is controlled by dynamic and complex interactions of adsorbed species at the surface of the electrodes and the efficiency and safety of high-performance battery electrodes is greatly determined by the long term impact of highly energetic reactions occurring at their surface. Very few methods for understanding and following the evolution of these processes exist, so a priority of my laboratory’s research will be to develop highly enabling and creative electroanalytical methods to describe and enhance these systems. Scheme 1 follows the workflow in my group, where new analytical methods will be created to conceive, design, develop, and test ideas for new techniques, materials and chemical strategies in energy research.

Scheme 2 depicts the interests of my group, where we will use advanced techniques such as those based on Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) to develop a unique approach to research in catalysis and novel materials such as graphene. Here, micro- and nano-electrode probes can be used to detect adsorbed species and to image their reactivity with spatial and temporal resolution on electrodes. SECM can use selective species that interrogate surface-bound molecules and reaction intermediates in electrocatalytic reactions, and this will allow us to obtain information about their surface dynamics. These include adsorbate interconversion, differential reactivity and surface diffusion, all of these long-standing challenges in the field and critical for the development of platforms for important processes such as H2 and O2 production and activation, CO2 reduction and the oxidation of alternative fuels. We will develop a distinctive method of analysis for lithium-ion batteries, ion-selective membranes and ionic conductors where now we will be able to assess and tune the impact of different chemical and electrochemical conditions on the ability of these materials to transport charge. We will design new strategies to manipulate and measure the reactivity of novel interfaces, such as single layer graphene (SLG). The unique electronic and mechanical properties of SLG make it the perfect material to tailor and control electrochemical reactions and potentially to unravel emerging molecular interactions that can be used to create new strategies in catalysis.

My group will provide an exciting and motivating environment for scientific discovery and collaboration, both within researchers in the group and beyond. A strong emphasis will be placed in advising graduate students to think creatively, implement their ideas experimentally and make use of computational modeling to test such ideas and independently generate more advanced ones.


15. Rodríguez-López, J.; Ritzert, N.L.; Mann, J.A.; Tan, C.; Dichtel, W.R.; Abruña, H.D. Surface Diffusion of Electrochemically Active Tripodal Motifs on Graphene, a Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy Approach. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 6224–6236.

14. Tan, C.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Parks, J.J.; Ritzert, N.L.; Ralph, D.C.; Abruña, H.D. The Examination of the Reactivity of Graphene Imperfections Using Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. ACS Nano 2012, 6, 3070–3079.

13. Mann, J.A.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Abruña, H.D.; Dichtel, W.R. Multivalent bonding motifs for the noncovalent functionalization of graphene. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 17614–17617.

12. Rodríguez-López, J.; Minguzzi, A.; Bard, A.J. The reaction of various reductants with oxide films on Pt electrodes as studied by the Surface Interrogation Mode of Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SI-SECM). Possible validity of a Marcus relationship. J. Phys .Chem. C. 2010, 114, 18645-18655. 

11. Wang, Q.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Bard, A.J. Evaluation of Chemical Reactions from Two Electrogenerated Species in Picoliter Volumes by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. Chem. Phys. Chem. 2010, 11, 2969-2978.

10. Shen, M.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Huang, J.; Liu, Q.; Zhu, X.-H.; Bard, A.J. Electrochemistry and Electrogenerated Chemiluminescence of Dithienylbenzothiadiazole Differential Reactivity of Donor and Acceptor Groups and Simulations of Radical Cation – Anion and Dication – Radical Anion Annihilations.  J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 13453-13461.  

9. Shen, M.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Lee, Y.-T.; Chen, C.-T.; Fan, F.F.-R.; Bard, A.J.; Electrochemistry and Electrogenerated Chemiluminescence of a Novel Donor-Acceptor FPhSPFN Red Fluorophore. J. Phys. Chem. C 2010, 114, 9772-9780.

8. Rodríguez-López, J.; Bard, A.J. Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy: Surface Interrogation of Adsorbed Hydrogen and the Open Circuit Catalytic Decomposition of Formic Acid at Platinum. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2010, 132, 5121-5129.

7. Wang, Q.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Bard, A.J. The Reaction of Br2 with Adsorbed CO on Pt Studied by the Surface Interrogation Mode of Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 17046-17047.

6. Lin, C.-L.; Rodriguez-Lopez, J.; Bard, A.J. Micropipette Delivery-Substrate Collection Mode of Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy for the Imaging of Electrochemical Reactions and the Screening of Methanol Oxidation Electrocatalysts. Anal. Chem. 2009, 81, 8868-8877.

5. Jung, C.;  Sánchez-Sánchez, C.M.; Lin, C.-L.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Bard, A.J. Electrocatalytic Activity of Pd-Co Bimetallic Mixtures for Formic Acid Oxidation Studied by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. Anal. Chem. 2009, 81, 7003-7008.

4. Rodríguez-López, J.; Alpuche-Aviles, M.A.; Bard, A.J. Interrogation of Surfaces for the Quantification of Adsorbed Species on Electrodes: Oxygen on Gold and Platinum in Neutral Media. J. Am. Chem. Soc.  2008, 130, 16985-16995.

3. Minguzzi A.; Alpuche-Aviles, M.A.; Rodriguez Lopez, J.; Rondinini, S.; Bard, A.J. Screening of Oxygen Evolution Electrocatalysts by Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy Using a Shielded Tip Approach. Anal. Chem. 2008, 80, 4055–4064.

2. Sánchez-Sánchez, C.M.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Bard, A.J. Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. 60. Quantitative Calibration of the SECM Substrate Generation / Tip Collection Mode and Its Use for the Study of the Oxygen Reduction Mechanism. Anal. Chem. 2008, 80, 3254-3260.

1. Rodríguez-López, J.; Alpuche-Aviles, M.A.; Bard, A.J. Selective Insulation with Poly(tetrafluoroethylene) of Substrate Electrodes for Electrochemical Background Reduction in Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. Anal. Chem. 2008, 80, 1813-1818.

Book Chapters

Rodríguez-López, J. The Surface Interrogation Mode of Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SI-SECM): an approach to the study of adsorption and (electro)catalysis at electrodes. In Electroanalytical Chemistry, a series of advances. Vol. 24. Bard, A.J. and Zoski, C.G., Eds. CRC Press.


  • Young Investigator Award, Energy Materials Center at Cornell, 2012.
  • ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry Graduate Fellowship, Sponsored by Eli Lilly and Co. September 2009-May 2010.
  • Dean’s Prestigious Graduate Fellowship Award, by the office of Graduate Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. September 2009.
  • Livingston Fellowship, by The William S. Livingston Endowment Fund at the University of Texas at Austin. Summer 2010.
  • Swagelok Award. Nano Night 08 Poster Session, The University of Texas at Austin, April 22, 2008.
  • Honorific Excellence Mention and first in Chemistry class. Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey, México, December 2005.
  • 2006 First place for best bachelor thesis in electrochemistry. Sociedad Mexicana de Electroquímica, SMEQ (Mexican Society of Electrochemistry).


Graphene paper highlighted as cover of ACS Nano of April, 2012

Tan, C.; Rodríguez-López, J.; Parks, J.J.; Ritzert, N.L.; Ralph, D.C.; Abruña, H.D. The Examination of the Reactivity of Graphene Imperfections Using Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy.


coming soon
Photo of Joaquín Rodríguez-López