Dr. Livia Giordano is a research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she leads the computational chemistry research in the Electrochemical Energy Laboratory at the Department of Mechanical Engineering. She is also a program manager of the Low Carbon Energy Center for Energy Storage for the MIT Energy Initiative. She obtained her PhD in Material Science from the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy. Before joining MIT as a visiting professor in 2013, Livia Giordano was an assistant professor at the Material Science Department of the University of Milano-Bicocca in Italy. After starting as an experimental scientist, her research has then focused on first-principles calculations of surface reactivity of oxides, and interfacial phenomena at metal-oxide and oxide-liquid interfaces.
Livia Giordano research employs first-principle theoretical simulations to understand the chemical processes in materials and interfaces for applications in electrochemical systems, including electrocatalysis, batteries and fuel cells. The goal of her research is to understand the physical and chemical properties governing the electrochemical reactions at the electrode/electrolyte interfaces. In particular, her work relates the surface reactivity to intrinsic properties of the materials and identifies design principles for improving the electrocatalytic activity and device performances. In the field of electrocatalysis, her work elucidated how the reaction mechanism for the oxygen evolution reaction depends on the electronic properties of the oxide perovskite electrode in aqueous electrolytes. In a collaborative project, she demonstrated as in highly active SrCoO3 perovskites the reaction mechanism deviates from the one conventionally accepted, and involves the participation of lattice oxygen in the oxide catalyst.
In a recent work, Livia Giordano was able to demonstrate that the chemical oxidation of organic solvent molecules can occur on the surface of layered oxides used in Li-ion batteries. This process was found to be highly dependent on the oxide composition and on the state of charge, being driven by the position of the oxygen states in the oxide electronic structure. This study encompasses the performance degradation in terms of capacity retention and cycle life of Li-ion batteries, whose physical origin was not fully understood. These studies grew out of her previous work on using first-principle calculations to investigate the chemical reactivity and charge transfer phenomena at the molecule/oxide and metal/oxide interfaces. In particular, she enlightened the importance of inter-molecular interaction on proton transfer with the oxide surfaces and thin films, and discovered a charge transfer mechanism between a molecule or a metal nano-particle, adsorbed on an oxide film of nano-metric thickness, and the metal used as substrate.
Livia Giordano has co-authored more than 150 publications in scientific journals and several patents in the field of electrolyte and catalyst design. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, the Electrochemical Society and the Material Research Society and Association for Women in Science.