The Sakamoto Group


As a materials scientist and chemical engineer with an interest in synthesis, processing, and functionalization of ceramics and hydrogels, my research is interdisciplinary guided by the fields of energy storage/conversion and biomedicine. I argue that the entire length scale, from atoms to the macro scale and everything in between, must be viewed holistically in the design, synthesis and development of advanced materials and materials technology. Porosity is central to my group's research. In some instances porosity, particularly at the nano scale, enables the solution-based synthesis of complex and often metastable ceramics and hydrogels with unique electrochemical, biological and mechanical properties. In other aspects of my group's research, ironically, porosity is initially used to synthesize complex materials, in gels and powder form, to enhance subsequent densification. Essentially, I have established a career in ceramics and hydrogels focused on studying the interplay between length scales and the absence of mass (porosity). I hope to use this experience to discover and develop new materials and materials technology for energy and biomedicine.

Research Challenges
  1. Minimizing the dependence on fossil fuels and reducing CO2 emissions are compelling arguments to electrify vehicles (EV). If EVs can improve energy efficiency in the short term and the technology for non-fossil-fuel-based/renewable electrical power generation can be realized in the long term, the benefits to our country's current and future sustainability are clear. However, transitioning to EVs is hindered by the cost and energy density of state of the art batteries. There is a clear need for advanced energy storage/conversion technology to enable vehicle electrification.
  2. Approximately 1.2 million Americans have sustained some form of spinal cord injury (SCI), with an estimated annual economic impact of $20 billion. SCI tragically disables its victims and extracts a psychological toll on patients and caregivers. Rehabilitation optimizes use of remaining systems, but there is great need for newer therapies to promote recovery.

Above are the two research challenges that inspire and guide my group's research. As you peruse this website, you will read about my plans to address these topics. Tackling the vehicle electrification challenges involves a two-pronged approach; electrochemistry and thermoelectricity. Establishing a viable therapy for spinal cord injuries involves materials and materials processing to fabricate scaffolds that promote and guide nerve growth.

Lithium Batteries

Lithium ion battery technology has advanced significantly in the last two decades. However, future energy storage demands will require safer, cheaper and higher performance electrochemical energy storage. While the primary strategy for improving performance has focused on electrode materials,the development of new electrolytes...

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Currently there are no effective therapies to regenerate damaged nerve tracts after an acute or chronic spinal cord injury. For the last 10 years, the Sakamoto group has collaborated with the Neuroscience Department at UC San Diego (Dr. M. Tuszynski) to develop multifunctional scaffolds that promote and guide axonal regeneration.

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Our group focuses on advanced synthesis techniques of highly engineered low thermal conductivity ceramics, with a focus on thermoelectric device applications. When integrated into an exhaust system, thermoelectric generators can use wasted heat from combustion to generate electricity to supplement hybrid...

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