Donal Finegan is a staff scientist at the NREL Center for Integrated Mobility Systems. His work focuses on understanding degradation and failure mechanisms of Li-ion batteries and taking steps to improve the performance and safety of cells and battery systems. His research has spanned numerous conventional and next generation energy-storage materials, such as various transition metal oxides, silicon, graphites, composite electrodes, and sulfur-based solid electrolytes. He is a frequent user of international synchrotron facilities and has pioneered the application of high-speed X-ray imaging for diagnosing battery failure mechanisms during thermal runaway. He actively engages with industry, research institutions and universities. He is a visiting lecturer at University College London (UCL), has published over 50 journal articles, and his work has received several internationally recognized awards.

Research Interests

Characterization and diagnostics of energy materials

Battery and cell safety


PhD, Chemical Engineering, University College London

BEng, Chemical Engineering, University College Dublin

Featured Work

Spatial Quantification of Dynamic Inter and Intra Particle Crystallographic Heterogeneities within Lithium Ion Electrodes, Nature Communications (2020)

Spatially Resolving Lithiation in Silicon-Graphite Composite Electrodes via In-Situ High-Energy X-Ray Diffraction Computed Tomography, Nano Letters (2019)

Characterising Thermal Runaway Within Lithium-Ion Cells by Inducing and Monitoring Internal Short Circuits, Energy & Environmental Science (2017)

Quantifying Bulk Electrode Strain and Material Displacement within Lithium Batteries via High-Speed Operando Tomography and Digital Volume Correlation, Advanced Science (2016)

In-Operando High-Speed Tomography of Lithium-Ion Batteries during Thermal Runaway, Nature Communications (2015)

Awards and Honors

The European Synchrotron Young Scientist Award (2020)

NASA Johnson Space Center Directors Group Achievement Award (2019)

Umicore Materials Technology Award (2018)

Institution of Chemical Engineers Global Young Researcher Award (2018)

The Engineer: Safety and Security Award (2017)

UCL Department of Chemical Engineering Newton Prize (2016)

UCL Department of Chemical Engineering Rooke Prize (2016)

The Royal Society of Chemistry Sheelagh Campbell Memorial Award (2015)

University College Dublin Carthy Graduate Research Project Award (2013)