Get to know Maider Zarrabeitia from KIT

June 2021

To know the project and activities better, we present a series of interviews with our project partners in which they will provide insights in their personal motivations and their experiences and tasks in the project.









What was your original motivation to become a researcher? What is your research area today?
I am a very curious person who always wants to know the reason of the events. Besides, since I was a child I have liked the games related to clarifying solutions. When I was a teenager, in the high school I had a subject called Laboratory Techniques, which I discovered that the Science was as my child games. At this time I decided that, I was going to study something related with Science. Later, at the University, I coursed Materials Science subject and in this time I discovered that I could investigate different materials for different applications, thus improving the quality of the society. All of this led me to make the decision to be a researcher.

Nowadays, and from my Master’s project, my research is focused on developing electrochemically active materials for sodium batteries. In addition, my acquired knowledges are focused on the relationship between the electrochemical properties of mentioned materials with their structural evolution, analysed by means of X-ray diffraction (XRD) and Neutron diffraction (ND), transport properties, studied by electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and electrode – electrolyte interphase by means of X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS).

What do you like the best about your work?
The best that I like about my work is the fact that each day you have a different challenge. In addition, you meet people from different countries and cultures, who enrich you personally. On the other hand, I like also to think that with my work I can help people by improving their life quality, in my case through the development of sodium batteries, which can be implemented on stationary applications.

Figure 2. Working in the laboratory

What is your main task in SIMBA?
I was carrying out my postdoc period in Helmholtz-Institute Ulm (HIU) funded by a Basque Government fellowship (Basque Country, Spain), under Prof. Stefano Passerini (HIU) and Dr. Miguel Angel Muñoz (CIC energiGUNE) supervision. After 2 years, my fellowship finished, and I had the opportunity to continue working in HIU. I decided that it was a good opportunity to stay at HIU. When I started again at HIU the SIMBA project was granted, and I was the candidate to work in the project.

The main activity of HIU and myself on SIMBA project is to develop single-ion conductive polymer electrolyte, to fabricate a highly cost-effective, safe and all-solid-state sodium-ion and sodium-metal battery.

Why is your company ideal for the research/activities in SIMBA?
HIU and Stefano Passerini´s group have a huge background and knowledge on two important aspect for SIMBA project: on the one hand, on sodium-ion batteries and on the other hand, developing polymer electrolytes. Additionally, in the last year our group is focused on more environmentally friendly and safe batteries, focusing mainly on the development of polymer electrolytes and more precisely on single-ion conductive polymer electrolytes.

What impact do you think the SIMBA technology will have?
I am totally convinced that the SIMBA project will figure out some of the scientific and technical challenges still not understating in sodium system. Besides, the sodium-ion and sodium-metal batteries developed within the SIMBA project will show the possibility to use sodium technology on stationary application with the advantages of cost effective and safe energy storage device.

Figure 3. Working in the laboratory part 2.

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