Nitash P. Balsara


(510) 642-8973
201C Gilman Hall

Lab: D52, D72, D80 & D84 Tan
Lab phone: (510) 643-5037, 642-8980

The Charles W. Tobias Professor in Electrochemistry
Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Faculty Associate Scientist, LBNL
  • Ph.D. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1988)
  • National Science Foundation Young Investigator Award (1994)
  • Sigma Xi Distinguished Faculty Research Award, Polytechnic University (1995)
  • 3M Non-Tenured Faculty Award, (1996)
  • Engineer of the Year, American Institute of Engineers of Indian Origin (1997)
  • John H. Dillon Medal, American Physical Society Award for Polymer Physics (1997)
  • Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award (1998)
  • Hendrick C. Van Ness Lectureship, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (1998)
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society, (2000)
  • Charles M.A. Stine Award
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers Award for Materials Engineering and Science (2005)

Electrochemical Energy and Ion Transport

The lithium-ion battery is a remarkable device. It is the first time humanity has access to a reusable box for storing and using energy. We work on the development of polymer electrolytes that enable the rapid transport of lithium ions between the battery electrodes. Our work encompasses materials design, synthesis, characterization, and performance evaluation in applications. We have developed microphase separated block copolymer electrolytes wherein one of the microphases is soft and ion-conducting, while the other is a rigid insulator. This design enables independent control over the electrical and mechanical properties of the electrolyte. We combine electrochemical characterization with advanced characterization methods such as synchrotron hard X-ray microtomography, X-ray photon correlation spectroscopy, and atomic-scale cryogenic electron microscopy to determine the molecular underpinnings of our observations. While we mainly focus on fundamental studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals, we also publish patents when we perceive that our work may have direct societal impact. Based on our patents, group alumni have cofounded two battery start-up companies: Seeo (founded in 2007) and Blue Current (founded in 2014).

The Balsara lab aims to foster a collaborative and inclusive environment where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. We support diversity in our group and are welcoming of each other’s viewpoints and backgrounds. We acknowledge that our group has not done enough to address racial and social injustices in academia and society. We are committed to making science more accessible to all through outreach, self-education about anti-racism, and supporting the professional development of underrepresented minority students and early career researchers. Please join us in these efforts!