Graduate Student Highlight: Kun Fu


Graduate Student Highlight

Name:  Kun Fu

Degree Program:  Ph.D. in Fiber and Polymer Science

Advisors:  Drs. Xiangwu Zhang and Philip D. Bradford

Degrees you have: 
M.S. in Textile Engineering, Philadelphia University, Philadelphia, PA, 2011
B.S. in Textile Science and Engineering, Donghua University, Shanghai, China, 2009

Where are you from?
Baoji, Shaanxi, China

What is your town / country like?
Baoji lies in the westernmost part of the middle reaches of the Yellow River, the birth place of the Chinese nation. Baoji area is the home to the Chinese forefather, the legendary Yandi. Thriving early in the Tang Dynasty, Baoji has roots to 2000 BC. The famous Famen Temple dating back to North Zhou Dynasty (AD 557-581) is the home to Buddha’s holy relics. I believe Baoji with over 3000 years history must be a mysterious city that you have never seen.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University?
NC State University provides the best education in textile engineering and science. The diverse studies and outstanding research in the textile field made me eager to pursue my Ph.D. study here.

Give a short description of your research:
My  primary  research  interest  is  in  the  area  of  advanced  energy  storage  systems.  The concerns over finite fossil fuel resources and environmental pollutions have spurred great interest in electrochemical energy storage (EES) systems to power the vehicles (EV) and to store renewable electricity in stationary storage devices. Understanding the relationships between materials properties and electrochemical performance and investigating the principles underlying EES are the key goals in my research.

How does your research impact the world?
My research about lithium-ion batteries published in Advanced Materials has been reported by IEEE Spectrum and Science Daily titled as “Carbon Nanotubes Could Solve Problems with Silicon in Li-ion Batteries” and “Battery Designs Gets Boost from Aligned Carbon Nanotubes”. Recently, our work about an advanced battery system, lithium-sulfur batteries, has been published in Chemical Communications. The peer reviewers highlighted that our work provided a simple but effective way to improve the electrochemical performance of sulfur cathode and exhibited a great industrial potential. I hope that my work could help others to solve more challenges in batteries and other energy storage systems.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?


  • NC State University “Analytical Instrumentation Facility (AIF) Best Paper” | 2013
  • NSF ERC FREEDM Systems Center Graduate Student Travel Award | 2013
  • Second Prize in FREEDM Systems Center Student Research Workshop | 2013

Media Coverage:

Publication list (First author in peer-reviewed journals):

  • K. Fu, Y. Li, M. Dirican, C. Chen, Y. Lu, J. Zhu, Y. Li, L. Cao, P. D. Bradford, and X. Zhang, “Sulfur gradient-distributed CNF composite: a self-inhibiting cathode for binder-free lithium-sulfur batteries,” Chem. Commun., vol. 50, pp. 10277–10280, Jul. 2014.
  • K. Fu, Y. Lu, M. Dirican, C. Chen, M. Yanilmaz, Q. Shi, P. D. Bradford, and X. Zhang, “Chamber-confined silicon-carbon nanofiber composites for prolonged cycling life of Li-ion batteries.,” Nanoscale, vol. 6, no. 13, pp. 7489–7495, Jun. 2014.
  • K. Fu, O. Yildiz, H. Bhanushali, Y. Wang, K. Stano, L. Xue, X. Zhang, and P. D. Bradford, “Aligned carbon nanotube-silicon sheets: a novel nano-architecture for flexible lithium ion battery electrodes.,” Adv. Mater., vol. 25, no. 36, pp. 5109–5114, Sep. 2013.
  • K. Fu, L. Xue, O. Yildiz, S. Li, H. Lee, Y. Li, G. Xu, L. Zhou, P. D. Bradford, and X. Zhang, “Effect of CVD carbon coatings on Si@CNF composite as anode for lithium-ion batteries,” Nano Energy, vol. 2, no. 5, pp. 976–986, Sep. 2013.

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State?
TECS provides a very good scientific environment allowing me to learn ideas and share thoughts with great professors not only in TECS in the Wilson College of Textiles but also in other departments at NC State University. Their leading accomplishments inspire me to think smart and work hard.

Who has influenced you most during your research here and how?
I want to thank my two advisors: Drs. Xiangwu Zhang and Philip Bradford. They guide me to think independently and work cooperatively in the scientific world.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study?
I know it is hard to believe that those engineered fibrous materials can storage and deliver electrons to power our cell phone, laptop, and vehicles, but they really make it. I hope that in a near future, my work can be commercialized and widely used to every cells in our daily life.