Chemistry at Illinois University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Joaquín Rodríguez-López

Assistant Professor of Chemistry

Originally from Mexico, Joaquin Rodriguez-Lopez did his undergraduate studies at Tecnológico de Monterrey, where he performed research in electrochemistry with Prof. Marcelo Videa (2005). He then moved to nearby Texas to obtain a Ph.D. under the guidance of Prof. Allen J. Bard at the University of Texas at Austin (2010). He performed postdoctoral studies with Prof. Hector D. Abruña in Cornell University (2012). Joaquin’s group combines interests in electroanalytical chemistry and energy materials by developing chemically-sensitive methods for studying ionic and electronic reactivity in nano-structures, highly-localized surface features, and ultra-thin electrodes. Joaquin’s group aspires to build a dynamic and diverse environment for research that generates original concepts for high-performance energy technologies.



Our research focuses on characterizing heterogeneous electrode materials for elucidating their function and generating new strategies to advance electrochemical energy technologies and sensing. Our objective is to pioneer powerful methods of analysis at the nano- and micro-scale for understanding how electrode structure, shape and size, as well as the formation of chemical intermediates, impact the performance of materials and interfaces for batteries, electrocatalysts and photoelectrocatalysts. The Rodriguez-Lopez group combines interests in analytical and materials chemistry.

Analytical focus. We use novel electrochemical and chemical probes for quantifying the impact of surface chemical and structural heterogeneities (e.g. defects, strain, sub-surface modifications) on the reaction kinetics and the evolution of interfacial reactivity. We aim at performing such analysis at the micro- and nano- scale and under relevant reacting conditions – that is, in situ and operando schemes. By doing so, we push the boundaries of state-of-the-art electrochemical analysis, performing measurements under challenging conditions such as in inert atmospheres or using sensitive chemistries. We carefully design experiments and chemical strategies together with computational methods for obtaining quantitative information. We make use of an array of electrochemical, spectroscopic, chemomechanical, and clean-room fabrication methods for testing new ideas in electron transfer, catalysis and energy storage.

Materials focus. On the materials side, my group is motivated by the idea that we can control the reactivity of one electrode or of an entire electrochemical device, by designing nano-scale interactions. We have used this concept, in collaboration with the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research, for ambitiously advancing a new type of redox flow battery based on size-exclusion. In this project, highly soluble redox active polymers and colloids are used to store charge. We are intrigued by the electrochemical signatures of these polymers, and we are developing a framework that integrates concepts in electron transfer theory, single particle analysis, and polymer physics to understand the solution reactivity of polymers. Further advancing nano-materials, we are also interested in the exploration of electrochemistry across ultra-thin interfaces. For that purpose, we tailor the reactivity of ultra-thin few layer graphene electrodes by means of short-range electronic and electrostatic effects for uncovering new potential directions in energy conversion and storage. New avenues in the design of electrocatalytic platforms consisting of thin layers of electrocatalysts are also under study in our laboratory for the exploration of new strategies in the design of fuel cell electrodes.

Our group highly values creativity, diversity, and a refreshing view of electrochemical reactivity using unique tools and approaches.


Burgess, M.; Moore, J.S.; Rodríguez-López, J.* Redox Active Polymers as Soluble Nanomaterials for Energy Storage. Acc. Chem. Res. 2016, In Press. [Invited contribution to special issue on Nanoelectrochemistry].
DOI: 10.1021/acs.accounts.6b00341.


Burgess, M.; Chenard, E.; Hernandez-Burgos, K.; Gavvalapalli, N.; Assary, R.S.; Hui, J.; Moore, J.S.*; Rodríguez-López, J.* Impact of Backbone Tether Length and Structure on the Electrochemical Performance of Viologen Redox Active Polymers. Chem. Mater. 2016, 28, 7362-7374.

Montoto, E.C.; Gavvalapalli, N.; Hui, J.; Burgess, M.; Sekerak, N.M.; Hernandez-Burgos, K.; Wei, T.; Kneer, M.; Grolman, J.M.; Cheng, K.J.; Lewis, J.A.; Moore, J.S.*; Rodríguez-López, J.* Redox Active Colloids as Discrete Energy Storage Carriers. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 13230-13237.

Hui, J.; Zhou, X.; Bhargava, R.; Chinderle, A.; Zhang, J.; Rodríguez-López, J.* Kinetic Modulation of Outer-Sphere Electron Transfer Reactions on Graphene Electrodes with a Sub-Surface Metal Substrate. Electrochim. Acta 2016, 211, 1016-1023.

Burgess, M.; Hernandez-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. [Invited contribution to Emerging Investigator Issue].

Hui, J.; Burgess, M.; Zhang, J.; Rodríguez-López, J.* Layer Number Dependence of Li+ Intercalation on Few-Layer Graphene and Electrochemical Imaging of its Solid-Electrolyte Interphase Evolution. ACS Nano 2016, 10, 4248-4257.

Simpson, B.H.; Rodríguez-López, J.* Electrochemical imaging and redox interrogation of surface defects on operating SrTiO3 photoelectrodes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015, 137, 14865-14868. Link:

Gavvalapalli, N.; Hui, J.; Cheng, K.; Lichtenstein, T.; Shen, M.; Moore, J.S.; Rodríguez-López, J.* Impact of Redox Active Polymer Molecular Weight on the Electrochemical Properties and Transport Across Porous Separators in Non-Aqueous Solvents. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 16309-16316.

Full list can be consulted in:



  • 2017 Royce W. Murray Young Investigator Award by the Society of Electroanalytical Chemistry.
  • 2016-2017 ECS-Toyota Young Investigator Fellowship.
  • 2016 Sloan Research Fellow
  • Distinguished Service Award, East-Central Illinois ACS Local Section, 2016
  • Joint Center for Energy Research Storage (JCESR) – Director’s fund award, 2014-2016
  • Society of Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh (SACP) Starter Grant, 2015
  • 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).


The JRL group was proud to organize the Midwestern Universities Analytical Chemistry Conference in 2016 at UIUC:

We are glad to contribute in the cover art for the Accounts of Chemical Research special issueon Nanoelectrochemistry:

ACS Nanoelectrochemistry cover

Joint Center for Energy Storage Research: A highlight on the Redox Flow Battery Sprint/ “Better polymers for better batteries”

Joint Center for Energy Storage Research: A highlight on the Sprint model.

Research Highlight: Let the good times flow. JCESR Newsletter, Issue 3.

Joaquin is announced as a 2016-2017 ECS-Toyota Young Investigator:

Please visit our teaching and outreach webpage:


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Photo of Joaquín Rodríguez-López