Jeff.jpgJeff Sakamoto

Jeffrey Sakamoto is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Michigan. Prior to joining UM, he was a faculty at Michigan State University for six years. Prior to that, he was a Senior Engineer at the California Institute of Technology, Jet Propulsion Laboratory for 7 years. He earned his Ph. D. (2001) in Materials Science and Engineering from UCLA. As a materials scientist and engineer with an interest in synthesis, processing, and functionalization of ceramics and hydrogels, his research is highly interdisciplinary guided by the fields of energy storage/conversion and biomedicine.



Awards and Honors

  • Kavli Fellow.
  • National Academy of Sciences, Organizing Committee, Frontiers of Science, Indonesia (2014).
  • National Academy of Engineering, Symposium Organizer, Irvine, CA (2014).
  • National Academy of Sciences, Invited Speaker, Frontiers of Science, Agra India (2013).
  • Michigan State University, Teacher-Scholar University-Level Award (2013).
  • National Academy of Engineering, Invited speaker, Frontiers of Engineering, Warren, MI (2012).
  • National Academy of Engineering, paper titled, “Keeping up with the Demands for Electrochemical Energy Storage”, National Academy of Engineering The Bridge (2012).
  • National Academy of Sciences, US Delegate, Kavli Frontiers of Science, Bogor, Indonesia (2011).
  • Withrow Distinguished Teaching Award (2008-2009).
  • NASA Inventions and Contributions Board, Major Space Act Award for intellectual property: “Development of Novel Materials and Materials Processing Enabling A New Class of Thermoelectric Generators” (2006).
  • JPL, Solar System Exploration Programs Directorate Bonus Award (2004).
  • United States Army, Commissioned Officer, Distinguished Military Graduate (1996).

Post-doctoral Fellows

Travis ThompScreen Shot 2017-01-26 at 9.52.25 PMson

Ph.D in Materials Science & Engineering. Michigan State University (2014); B.S. in California Polytechnic State University (2010)

My graduate work focused on synthesis and processing of materials for direct thermal-to-electric energy conversion and storage. This included ambient drying of silica aerogels, synthesis of oxide thermoelectric materials, and understanding the fundamental transport behavior of garnet type solid-electrolytes for advanced batteries using characterization techniques such as neutron scattering. I was then a Research Fellow at The University of Michigan in the Sakamoto group where I received entrepreneurial training, completing an I-Corps commercialization program. Additionally, I established commercialization associates within the Sakamoto group and lead solid-state prototype battery development. Now, I am continuing solid-state prototype battery development and commercialization work including interacting with potential corporate partners, developing scalable manufacturing processes, and identifying full cell integration methods.


IMG_7454Nathan Taylor

PhD in Materials Science & Engineering. University of Michigan (2015); M.S.E. in Materials Science & Engineering. University of Michigan (2013); B.S.E. in Materials Science & Engineering. University of Michigan (2009).

My work focuses on understanding the chemical and electrochemical interactions between oxide electrolytes and sulfide based electrolytes and cathodes to enable the construction of low-cost all solid-state batteries with metallic Li anodes.



Kendell M Pawelec

B.S. Materials Science & Engineering. Michigan State University (2010); PhD in Materials Science & Engineering. University of Cambridge (2014).

My area of research is nerve regeneration, especially in the central nervous system which does not have the ability to heal. Using porous poly-caprolactone conduits, nerve regeneration has been significantly improved. However, challenges remain in order to translate this technology to the clinic. Specifically, I am investigating the effects of electrical stimulation on nerve regeneration, and enhancing growth by utilizing drug delivery, in conjunction with the conduits. My second aim is to investigate new methods of scaffold manufacture to gain better control of features and transition to higher throughput methods of production.


Ph.D Students


Asma.jpgAsma Sharafi

Ph.D candidate in Mechanical Engineering

M.S. in Materials chemistry and nano science. University of Georgia, Athens (2013); B.S. in Materials Science & Engineering. Isfahan University of Technology, Iran (2009)

My research focus is on ceramic electrolyte with the garnet structure (Li7La3Zr2O12 – LLZO) that exhibits the combination of high ionic conductivity (0.4 mS/cm at room temperature) and chemical stability against metallic lithium for next generation battery technology.

My LinkedIn profile can be found here.


Regina.jpgRegina Garcia (Fulbright Scholar)

Ph.D student in Materials Science & Engineering

M.S. in Materials Science & Engineering. Michigan State University (2014). B.S. in Chemical Engineering. Universidad del Valle de Guatemala, Guatemala (2012)

My research is focused on understanding the chemical, electrochemical and mechanical stability of sulfide electrolytes for use in solid-state batteries with metallic lithium as an anode. 



Mike Wang

Ph.D Student in Materials Science & Engineering

B.S.E in Mechanical Engineering. Princeton University (2016)

My research focuses on understanding the mechanical interactions between LLZO and lithium metal. I also work on designing mixed ionic and electronic conductors for composite cathodes in solid state batteries.





Masters Student


Arushi Gupta

Masters student in Macromolecular Science & Engineering

B.Tech. in Plastics Technology-Chemical Technology, Harcourt Butler Technological   Institute (HBTI), India (2015).

My research focus is on the development of polymer-ceramic (LLZO) blend based solid electrolytes for solid state batteries.





Undergraduate Students


Catherine Haslam

My research focuses on synthesis, processing and characterization of the ceramic electrolyte LLZO. My current record hot-pressing time of LLZO is 6 continuous hours.





Nate Johnson

Mechanical Engineering (2018)

My work involves characterization of thin-film LLZO electrolyte. This includes taking XRD data, analyzing conductivity results, and determining sample densities through SEM. This data is used to identify slurry formulations and processing conditions. I also do CAD designs and drawings for projects around the lab, as well as machining and 3D printing. I am also the undergraduate manager in the lab. After getting my undergraduate degree, I plan on enrolling in the SUGS program to do my masters in mechatronics.


Nathan Houghteling

Electrical Engineering (2020)

 My work focuses on the production and characterization of composite cathode samples. I assist with powder processing, sample sintering, and hybrid cell assembly. I also collect and analyze data from characterization techniques such as XRD, SEM, and GCPL.


Jon Johnson

Mechanical Engineering (2019)

I work on processing and analyzing the solid electrolyte, which mostly consists of EIS conductivity testing, collecting x-ray diffraction data, and SEM imaging.





Diego Toelsa foto 1ral

Aerospace engineering (2020)

I graduated high school in Brazil and have been involved in multiple engineering projects in the past such as FIRST robotics and is currently heavily involved with the student build team M-fly. I am currently working alongside Nate and Jon Johnson and enjoy collecting data from samples using an x-ray diffractor and a scanning electron microscope.


Harsh Jhaveri

Aerospace Engineering and Computer Science (2020) 

The current manufacturing protocol for solid state batteries is intensive and expensive. My research focuses on adapting Aerosol Deposition solve this issue. I am currently developing an Aerosol Deposition system for the lab in order to create thin solid state films for concept testing.





Minji Namkoong

Engineering Physics (2017)

My work is multidisciplinary ranging from fabricating solid-state electrolytes to running and analyzing characterization tests done using x-ray diffractometer and scanning electron microscope to determine the purity and density of the samples.


Marcus Lee

Undeclared major (Class of 2019)

I work on synthesizing and processing the ceramic electrolyte with the garnet structure (Li7La3Zr2O12 – LLZO).  






Former Graduate Students

Dena Shahriari (Ph.D 2016, Currently a post-doctoral scholar at MIT)

Yunsung Kim (Ph.D 2015, Currently a post-doctoral scholar at Sakamoto Lab at the University of Michigan)

Travis Thompson (Ph.D. 2015, Currently a post-doctoral scholar at Sakamoto Lab at the University of Michigan)

A. Lynam (Ph. D. 2014, currently employed by Cook Biomedical)

Isabel David (M.S. 2014, Currently employed by Ohio State University)

Ezhiylmurugan Rangasamy (Ph. D. 2012, currently employed by Applied Materials)

Ryan Maloney (Ph. D. 2011, NSF GRF, currently employed by Apple)

Former Undergraduate Students

Eli Goldin (Mechanical Engineering Class of 2018)

Andrew Prince (Class of 2020)

Jacky Li (Class of 2020)

Bryce Paputa (Currently a Computer Science and Engineering B.S. student at the University of Michigan)

Ashwin Johri (Currently a Mechanical Engineering B.S. student at the University of Michigan)

Christopher Scott (Currently a Computer Science and Engineering B.S. student at the University of Michigan)

Tom Heuser (NSF GRF)

Kayla Wolf (NSF GRF, Currently a bioengineering Ph. D. student at UC Berkeley )

Bridget Bednark (Currently employed by Terumo, Ann Arbor, MI)

Alexa Coffman (Currently a medical student at Ohio State University)

Derek Miller (NSF GRF, Currently a Materials Science & Engineering PhD candidate at Ohio State University)