Chemical Engineer
Chemical Engineer


Venkateshkumar (Venky) Prabhakaran received his B. Tech. in Chemical and Electrochemical Engineering from the Central Electrochemical Research Institute in India in 2009 and his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2014. After his postdoctoral appointment at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) (2014-2017), he became a research scientist in March 2017. In 2017, he was also awarded the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory’s (EMSL) M.T. Thomas Award for his outstanding postdoctoral work.

Venky's research interests lie at the confluence of molecular-level understanding of ionic interactions and nanoscale phenomena at electrochemical interfaces, and the rational design of efficient and sustainable electrochemical separation and energy storage systems. His research activities at PNNL include (1) molecular-level understanding of chemical transformations occurring at well-defined electrode-electrolyte interfaces prepared using ion soft landing; (2) development of in situ and in operando techniques for studying electrochemical processes at well-defined electrode-electrolyte interfaces prepared with soft-landed ions; (3) multimodal electrochemical imaging coupled with optical spectroscopy and mass spectrometry; and (4) development of highly active and durable platinum group metal-free oxygen reduction reaction electrocatalysts for polymer electrolyte fuel cells.

Research Interest

  • Electrochemical separations
  • Ion soft landing of mass-selected ions
  • Electrode-electrolyte interfacial science
  • Electrochemical imaging
  • Energy storage and conversion
  • Mass spectrometry


  • Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering, Illinois Institute of Technology
  • B. Tech. in Chemical and Electrochemical Engineering, Central Electrochemical Research Institute

Affiliations and Professional Service

  • American Chemical Society
  • Electrochemical Society
  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • NAE Frontiers of Engineering

Awards and Recognitions

  • 2016 M.T. Thomas Award for Outstanding Postdoctoral Achievement from EMSL/PNNL.
  • “Popular Choice Award” in PNNL’s 2017 Science As Art Competition.



  • Jeong H., D. Nguyen, Y. Yang, D. Buchholz, G. Evmenenko, J. Guo, and F. Yang, et al. 2023. "Electrolyte Reactivity on MgV2O4 Cathode Surface." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces. PNNL-SA-185103. doi:10.1021/acsami.3c07875
  • Prabhakaran V., G. Agarwal, J. Howard, S. Wi, V. Shutthanandan, D. Nguyen, and L.P. Soule, et al. 2023. "Coordination-dependent chemical reactivity of TFSI anions at a Mg metal interface." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 15, no. 5:7518–7528. PNNL-SA-178429. doi:10.1021/acsami.2c18477
  • Prabhakaran V., G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2023. "Ion Soft Landing: A Unique Tool for Understanding Electrochemical Processes." Current Opinion in Electrochemistry 40. PNNL-SA-185331. doi:10.1016/j.coelec.2023.101310
  • Prabhakaran V., L.E. Strange, R. Kalsar, O.A. Marina, P. Upadhyay, and V.V. Joshi. 2023. "Investigating Electrochemical Corrosion at Mg Alloy-Steel Joint Interface Using Scanning Electrochemical Cell Impedance Microscopy (SECCIM)." Scientific Reports 13. PNNL-SA-170379. doi:10.1038/s41598-023-39961-2
  • Primera-Pedrozo O.M., S. Tan, D. Zhang, B.T. O'Callahan, W. Cao, E.T. Baxter, and X. Wang, et al. 2023. "Influence of Surface and Intermolecular Interactions on the Properties of Supported Polyoxometalates." Nanoscale 15, no. 12:5786-5797. PNNL-SA-179002. doi:10.1039/D2NR06148A
  • Tan S., M. Nguyen, D. Zhang, L. Zhong, Z. Cheng, S. China, and G.E. Johnson, et al. 2023. "Electric-Field-Induced Assembly of an Ionic Liquid-Water Interphase Enables Efficient Heavy Metal Electrosorption." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 15, no. 37:44469-44481. PNNL-SA-182933. doi:10.1021/acsami.3c07465
  • Tan S., D. Zhang, Y. Chen, B.A. Helfrecht, E.T. Baxter, W. Cao, and X. Wang, et al. 2023. "Complexation of heavy metal cations with imidazolium ionic liquids lowers their reduction energy: implications for electrochemical separations." Green Chemistry. PNNL-SA-193331. doi:10.1039/D3GC03713D.


  • Baxter E.T., J. Zhang, S. Tan, M. Nguyen, D. Zhang, Q. Yuan, and W. Cao, et al. 2022. "Functionalization of Electrodes with Tunable [EMIM]x[Cl]x+1– Ionic Liquid Clusters for Electrochemical Separations." Chemistry of Materials 34, no. 6:2612-2623. PNNL-SA-168307. doi:10.1021/acs.chemmater.1c03836
  • Prabhakaran V., R. Kalsar, L.E. Strange, O.A. Marina, R. Prabhakaran, and V.V. Joshi. 2022. "Understanding Localized Corrosion on Metal Surfaces using Scanning Electrochemical Cell Impedance Microscopy (SECCIM)." Journal of Physical Chemistry C 126, no. 30:12519–12526. PNNL-SA-173164. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.2c03807
  • Prabhakaran V., J.E. Romo, A. Bhattarai, K.S. George, Z.M. Norberg, D.S. Kalb, and E. Apra, et al. 2022. "Integrated Photoelectrochemical Energy Storage Cells Prepared by Benchtop Ion Soft Landing." Chemical Communications 58, no. 65:9060-9063. PNNL-SA-151277. doi:10.1039/D2CC02595G
  • Tan S., D. Zhang, M. Nguyen, V. Shutthanandan, T. Varga, R.J. Rousseau, and G.E. Johnson, et al. 2022. "Tuning the Charge and Hydrophobicity of Graphene Oxide Membranes by Functionalization with Ionic Liquids at Epoxide Sites." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 14, no. 16:19031–19042. PNNL-SA-168120. doi:10.1021/acsami.2c02366
  • Vandergrift G.W., W.R. Kew, J.K. Lukowski, A. Bhattacharjee, A.V. Liyu, E.A. Shank, and L. Pasa Tolic, et al. 2022. "Imaging and direct sampling capabilities of nanospray desorption electrospray ionization with absorption-mode 21 Tesla Fourier transform ion cyclotron resonance mass spectrometry." Analytical Chemistry 94, no. 8:3629–3636. PNNL-SA-167736. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.1c05216
  • Wi S., V. Shutthanandan, B. Modachur Sivakumar, S. Thevuthasan, V. Prabhakaran, S. Roy, and A. Karakoti, et al. 2022. "In situ x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy analysis of electrochemical interfaces in battery: Recent advances and remaining challenges." Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A: International Journal Devoted to Vacuum, Surfaces, and Films 40, no. 1:Art. No. 010808. PNNL-SA-161566. doi:10.1116/6.0001460
  • Xie H., X. Xie, G. Hu, V. Prabhakaran, S. Saha, L. Gonzalez-Lopez, and A.H. Phakatkar, et al. 2022. "Ta-TiOx nanoparticles as radical scavengers to improve the durability of Fe-N-C oxygen reduction catalysts." Nature Energy 7, no. 3:281 - 289. PNNL-SA-159528. doi:10.1038/s41560-022-00988-w


  • Agarwal G., J. Howard, V. Prabhakaran, G.E. Johnson, V. Murugesan, K.T. Mueller, and L.A. Curtiss, et al. 2021. "Insights into Spontaneous Solid Electrolyte Interphase Formation at Magnesium Metal Anode Surface from Ab Initio Molecular Dynamics Simulations." ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces 13, no. 32:38816-38825. PNNL-SA-164872. doi:10.1021/acsami.1c07864
  • Hankins K.S., V. Prabhakaran, S. Wi, V. Shutthanandan, G.E. Johnson, S. Roy, and H. Wang, et al. 2021. "Role of Polysulfide Anions in Solid-Electrolyte Interphase Formation at the Lithium Metal Surface in Li-S Batteries." The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 12, no. 38:9360-9367. PNNL-SA-159986. doi:10.1021/acs.jpclett.1c01930
  • Modachur Sivakumar B., V. Prabhakaran, K. Duanmu, E.C. Thomsen, B. Berland, N. Gomez, and D.M. Reed, et al. 2021. "Long-Term Structural and Chemical Stability of Carbon Electrodes in Vanadium Redox Flow Battery." ACS Applied Energy Materials 4, no. 6:6074-6081. PNNL-SA-160926. doi:10.1021/acsaem.1c00912
  • Nguyen M., J. Zhang, V. Prabhakaran, S. Tan, E.T. Baxter, V. Shutthanandan, and G.E. Johnson, et al. 2021. "Graphene Oxide as Pb(II) Separations Medium : Has part of the story been overlooked?." JACS Au 1, no. 6:766-776. PNNL-SA-160655. doi:10.1021/jacsau.0c00075


  • Edgecomb J.M., X. Xie, Y. Shao, P.Z. El-Khoury, G.E. Johnson, and V. Prabhakaran. 2020. "Mapping localized peroxyl radical generation on a PEM fuel cell catalyst using integrated scanning electrochemical cell microspectroscopy." Frontiers in Chemistry 8. PNNL-SA-153799. doi:10.3389/fchem.2020.572563
  • Garimella V., A. Li, V. Prabhakaran, A.L. Hollerbach, and Y.M. Ibrahim. 2020. Ambient Ion Trapping and Separations for High Throughput Structurally Selective Material Deposition. PNNL-30549. Richland, WA: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Ambient Ion Trapping and Separations for High Throughput Structurally Selective Material Deposition
  • Li A., G. Nagy, C.R. Conant, R.V. Norheim, J. Lee, C.M. Giberson, and A.L. Hollerbach, et al. 2020. "Ion Mobility Spectrometry with High Ion Utilization Efficiency Using Traveling Wave-Based Structures for Lossless Ion Manipulations." Analytical Chemistry 92, no. 22:14930-14938. PNNL-SA-166146. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.0c02100
  • Zhang J., E.T. Baxter, M. Nguyen, V. Prabhakaran, R.J. Rousseau, G.E. Johnson, and V. Glezakou. 2020. "Structure and Stability of the Ionic Liquid Clusters [EMIM]n[BF4]n+1- (n = 1 - 9): Implications for Electrochemical Separations." The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters 11, no. 16:6844-6981. PNNL-SA-153510. doi:10.1021/acs.jpclett.0c01671


  • Prabhakaran V., Z. Lang, A. Clotet, J.M. Poblet, G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2019. "Controlling the Activity and Stability of Electrochemical Interfaces Using Atom-by-Atom Metal Substitution of Redox Species." ACS Nano 13, no. 1:458-466. PNNL-SA-132145. doi:10.1021/acsnano.8b06813
  • Wang X., V. Prabhakaran, Y. He, Y. Shao, and G. Wu. 2019. "Iron-Free Cathode Catalysts for Proton-Exchange-Membrane Fuel Cells: Cobalt Catalysts and the Peroxide Mitigation Approach." Advanced Materials 31, no. 31:Article Number 1805126. PNNL-SA-141392. doi:10.1002/adma.201805126


  • Johnson G.E., V. Prabhakaran, N.D. Browning, B.L. Mehdi, J. Laskin, P.A. Kottke, and A.G. Fedorov. 2018. "DRILL Interface Makes Ion Soft Landing Broadly Accessible for Energy Science and Applications." Batteries and Supercaps 1, no. 3:97-101. PNNL-SA-133831. doi:10.1002/batt.201800042
  • Laskin J., G.E. Johnson, J. Warneke, and V. Prabhakaran. 2018. "From Isolated Ions to Multilayer Functional Materials Using Ion Soft Landing." Angewandte Chemie International Edition 57, no. 50:16270-16284. PNNL-SA-130953. doi:10.1002/anie.201712296
  • Su P., V. Prabhakaran, G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2018. "In situ Infrared Spectroelectrochemistry for Understanding Structural Transformations of Precisely Defined Ions at Electrochemical Interfaces." Analytical Chemistry 90, no. 18:10935-10942. PNNL-SA-137370. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b02440
  • Yin R., V. Prabhakaran, and J. Laskin. 2018. "Quantitative Extraction and Mass Spectrometry Analysis at a Single-Cell Level." Analytical Chemistry 90, no. 13:7937-7945. PNNL-SA-137460. doi:10.1021/acs.analchem.8b00551


  • Estevez L., V. Prabhakaran, A.L. Garcia, Y. Shin, J. Tao, A.M. Schwarz, and J.T. Darsell, et al. 2017. "Hierarchically Porous Graphitic Carbon with Simultaneously High Surface Area and Colossal Pore Volume Engineered via Ice Templating." ACS Nano 11, no. 11:11047-11066. PNNL-SA-126443. doi:10.1021/acsnano.7b05085


  • Gunaratne K.D., V. Prabhakaran, A. Andersen, G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2016. "Charge Retention of Soft-Landed Phosphotungstate Keggin Anions on Self-Assembled Monolayers." Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics. PCCP 18, no. 13:9021-9028. PNNL-SA-114511. doi:10.1039/C5CP06954H
  • Laskin J., G.E. Johnson, and V. Prabhakaran. 2016. "Soft Landing of Complex Ions for Studies in Catalysis and Energy Storage." Journal of Physical Chemistry C 120, no. 41:23305-23322. PNNL-SA-119040. doi:10.1021/acs.jpcc.6b06497
  • Prabhakaran V., B.L. Mehdi, J.J. Ditto, M.H. Engelhard, B. Wang, K.D. Gunaratne, and D.C. Johnson, et al. 2016. "Rational Design of Efficient Electrode-Electrolyte Interfaces for Solid-State Energy Storage Using Ion Soft-Landing." Nature Communications 7. PNNL-SA-113159. doi:10.1038/ncomms11399


  • Gunaratne K.D., V. Prabhakaran, G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2015. "Gas-Phase Fragmentation Pathways of Mixed-Addenda Keggin Anions: PMo12-nWnO403- (n = 0-12)." Journal of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry 26, no. 6:1027-1035. PNNL-SA-106983. doi:10.1007/s13361-015-1090-5
  • Gunaratne K.D., V. Prabhakaran, Y.M. Ibrahim, R.V. Norheim, G.E. Johnson, and J. Laskin. 2015. "Design and Performance of a High-Flux Electrospray Ionization Source for Ion Soft-Landing." Analyst 140, no. 9:2957-2963. PNNL-SA-108077. doi:10.1039/C5AN00220F


  • Gunaratne K.D., G.E. Johnson, A. Andersen, D. Du, W. Zhang, V. Prabhakaran, and Y. Lin, et al. 2014. "Controlling the Charge State and Redox Properties of Supported Polyoxometalates via Soft Landing of Mass Selected Ions." Journal of Physical Chemistry C 118, no. 48:27611-27622. PNNL-SA-104962. doi:10.1021/jp505050m