Research Project Descriptions
Current Research Overview PDF Print E-mail
Solar Thermal Fuels PDF Print E-mail
Solar thermal fuels are a class of materials that undergo a structural transformation from a low energy state to a higher energy state upon illumination with light, thus "storing" energy in the system. This process is called charging. Using a suitable catalyst, one can trigger the back reaction - discharging process, and release this stored energy as heat, effectively converting sunlight into heat in a single cycle. Our group is dedicated to synthesizing these photoswitch materials, finding suitable catalysts for triggering the back reaction and understanding these materials/processes using various experimental and computational characterization techniques.
Photovoltaics PDF Print E-mail
Photovoltaics involves converting sunlight directly into electricity using suitable semiconductor materials. Our group focuses on a variety of such semiconducting materials to capture sunlight and fabricate devices to convert the captured sunlight into electricity. Current projects in this area include:

1. Quantum dot (QD) solar cells: Computational study and experimental synthesis/characterization of QDs such as PbS, PbSe for efficient QD solar cells (in collaboration with other groups at MIT).

2. 2D Photovoltaics: Exploiting the exotic properties of novel two-dimensional materials such as MoS2, MoSe2, graphene etc. to fabricate solar cells that are about a nanometer thick in size. Such solar cells exhibit high energy densities and enable the possibility of fabricating paper-like solar cells.

3. Amorphous Si (a-Si) solar cells: Understanding the process of hole mobility in a-Si using computational and experimental techniques, enabling efficient a-Si solar cells.

4. 3D-PV architectures: Exploration of three dimensional solar architectures of different shapes and sizes using commerically available flat solar cell panels. Such optimized 3D structures show better stability and reliability when it comes to power management. 

Organic Geomaterials PDF Print E-mail

The booming availability of inexpensive oil and gas from unconventional reservoirs (tight oil, oil/gas shales) has been made possible by technological advancements such as horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Despite the now widespread use of these technologies, many questions still remain open, from a scientific and technological standpoint. How can we optimize the extraction process? I can we minimize the use of natural resources (like energy and water) in the process? How can we make the process more friendly with the environment? To answer to these question, our group is investigating the multiscale chemo-mechanical properties of the organic matter (and in particular, its solid component, kerogen) included in oil/gas shales. We are developing new characterization and modeling techniques that allow for non-destructive and reliable monitoring of the chemical composition of the organic and how this relates to the mechanical, elastic and thermal properties. Our investigations of kerogens and natural carbonaceous materials go hand-in-hand with the characterization of other artificial carbonaceous materials (such as carbon nanotubes and graphene), with the goal to identify new and common traits, properties and applications between natural and artificial carbonaceous materials.

Our work with gas shales is conducted in part within the X-Shale Hub at MIT, an industry sponsored center dedicated to the investigation of the science and technology of gas shales.
Two-Dimensional Materials PDF Print E-mail


Two-dimensional materials such as transition metal dichalcogenides, graphene, graphene oxide and hybridized monolayers are being extensively considered for next-generation, large area thin film technologies. Our group studies a number of these materials including MoS2, MoSe2, WS2, graphene oxide, graphene etc. for applications in optoelectronic devices, energy conversion and energy storage assemblies. We perform a number of atomistic calculations to understand, predict and design these materials, that go hand-in-hand with experimental synthesis and characterization.

Water Desalination PDF Print E-mail


Water is a growing issue in modern world. Usage of salt water to meet the increasing demands for potable water is crucial. Further, finding ways to desalinate water more efficiently and at lower costs compared to current technologies is important. To this end, our group focuses on using novel nanoscale membrane materials to desalinate water efficiently. These membrane materials include nanoporous graphene and silicon. 

Thermal Transport PDF Print E-mail


Understanding thermal transport at the nano and mesoscale is crucial to designing efficient thermoelectric devices. Our group focuses on designing novel thermoelectric architectures and understanding their thermal ane electronic behavior at various scales using a combination of atomistic and continuum scale calculations. Currently, we are designing functionalized forms of graphene and nanoporous silicon that exhibit low thermal conductivity, and at the same time show high electronic conductivity - a useful characteristic for applications in thermoelectric devices.  

Cement Chemistry PDF Print E-mail


Cement manufacturing contributes significantly to CO2 emissions around the world. Although an ancient material, the atomic structure and reactivity of cement is porrly understood. Our group focuses on understanding the atomic and electronic structure of cement materials, and in turn tune the reactivity of cement towards water. The idea is to design phases of cement that have the ability to react and be processable at faster rates, and at the same time be able to limit CO2 emissions during these processing conditions.