Ph.D. student garners RSC Poster Presentation Award

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Graduate student Yuto Katsuyama (Kaner group) wins Poster Presentation Award at the Royal Society of Chemistry’s (RSC) 4th Organic Battery Days 2021.

At the RSC international conference on organic batteries in Tokyo, Japan, the second-year chemistry graduate student in Professor Richard Kaner’s group, received the award for his poster titled “Prospects of Croconic Acid as High-Voltage (> 4V) Cathode Material for Lithium-ion Batteries”. Although he was forced to stay in Japan for his entire first year of the Ph.D. program due to COVID restrictions, Katsuyama continued his Ph.D. research in Professor Itaru Honma’s group at Tohoku University, Japan, as a collaboration.

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Kaner group graduate student Yuto Katsuyama with his award winning research poster.

According to Katsuyama, Organic batteries use organic materials as the active components. Unlike conventional inorganic batteries that use expensive metals, sometimes from conflict zones, organic batteries are mainly composed of basic elements, including C, O, and N. However, most organic molecules work at relatively low voltage (1-3 V vs. Li/Li+), and it is difficult to achieve high voltages above 4 V. Previous research focused on organic molecules based on 6-membered carbon rings because they are stable and electrically conductive. 

While most researchers studied molecules based on 6-membered carbon rings, Yuto focused on a classic but unique molecule, Croconic acid, whose structure is based on a 5-membered carbon ring, as a cathode material for lithium-ion batteries. Through theoretical DFT calculations and experiments, he verified that Croconic acid has a high discharge voltage of around 4 V. Based on this result, the theoretical energy density of croconic acid is almost 2000 Wh/kgactive material,which is higher than conventional inorganic batteries and most organic batteries.

Therefore, Croconic acid, composed of only common elements, could potentially increase the continuous range of electric vehicles by 2-3 times!

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Katsuyama received his bachelor’s degree in engineering at Tohoku University.  His website is and his email is

Penny Jennings, UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry,