Wade Braunecker is a leading authority at NREL on radical polymerization techniques and macromolecular engineering, which includes the synthesis of polymeric materials with controlled architectures, functionalities, and compositions, as well as two- and three-dimensional, high-surface area polymeric framework-based materials and composites. 

His early career focused on elucidating elemental processes governing radical polymerization catalysis, and his contributions to the field in the form of 20 peer reviewed publications, book chapters, and educational reviews in this arena have provided a foundation for experts and non-experts across the nation to advance the development of macromolecular materials for a wide variety of renewable energy applications.

Braunecker brought this expertise to NREL in 2010 and applied macromolecular engineering concepts to the design and synthesis of organic electronic polymers and high surface area framework-based materials, where he has since gone on to publish an additional 30 research works in the fields of organic photovoltaics, organic radical batteries, and gas storage and separations. He currently leads a number of efforts in the areas of hydrogen storage, direct air carbon dioxide (CO2) capture, and reactive carbon capture and conversion to synthetic fuel precursors.

Research Interests

Direct air CO2 capture and reactive conversion

Hydrogen storage and delivery

Organic electronics

Macromolecular engineering


Ph.D., Chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University

B.S., Chemistry, University of Notre Dame

Professional Experience

Senior Scientist, NREL (2016–present)

Staff Scientist, NREL (2012–2016)

Postdoctoral Research Associate, NREL (2010–2012)

Postdoctoral Research Associate, University of Colorado Boulder (2008–2009)

Associations and Memberships

Joint Appointment, Colorado School of Mines, Department of Chemistry (2019–present)

Featured Work

Phototriggered Desorption of Hydrogen, Ethylene, and Carbon Monoxide from a Cu(I)-Modified Covalent Organic Framework, J. Phys. Chem. C (2022)

Fluorescent Probe of Aminopolymer Mobility in Bulk and in Nanoconfined Direct Air CO2 Capture Supports, J. Phys. Chem. C (2022)

Colloidal Three-Dimensional Covalent Organic Frameworks and Their Application as Porous Liquids, J. Mater. Chem. A (2020)

Thermal Activation of a Copper-Loaded Covalent Organic Framework for Near-Ambient Temperature Hydrogen Storage and Delivery, ACS Materials Lett. (2020)

Molecular Insights into Photostability of Fluorinated Organic Photovoltaic Blends: Role of Fullerene Electron Affinity and Donor–Acceptor Miscibility, Sustainable Energy Fuels (2020)

Strategic Fluorination of Polymers and Fullerenes Improves Photostability of Organic Photovoltaic Blends, Org. Electronics (2018)

Phenyl/Perfluorophenyl Stacking Interactions Enhance Structural Order in Two-Dimensional Covalent Organic Frameworks, Cryst. Growth Des. (2018)

Photobleaching Dynamics in Small Molecule vs. Polymer Organic Photovoltaic Blends with 1,7-bis-trifluoromethylfullerene, J. Mater. Chem. A (2018)

Promoting Morphology with a Favorable Density of States Using Diiodooctane to Improve Organic Photovoltaic Device Efficiency and Charge Carrier Lifetimes, ACS Energy Lett. (2017)

Covalently Bound Nitroxyl Radicals in an Organic Framework, J. Phys. Chem. Lett. (2016)


Fluorescent Probe of Aminopolymer Mobility in Nanoconfined Direct Air CO2 Capture Supports, U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 63/321,678 (2022)

Photo Triggered Covalent Organic Frameworks and Methods of Using, U.S. Patent Application No. 17/393,961 (2021)

Materials for Flow Battery Energy Storage and Methods of Using, U.S. Patent No. 10,367,222 B2 (2019)

Hybrid Radical Energy Storage Device and Method of Making, US Patent No. 9,324,992 B2 (2016)