Energy Materials

Developing materials for renewable energy and sustainability applications is critical to our planet's future.  Materials Science & Engineering faculty and students are exploring interests and area of expertise are in organic electronics, patterning materials at the nanometer length scale and



Widespread application of photovoltaic power to provide a significant fraction of the world’s energy needs will require a dramatic lowering of photovoltaic cell material cost and thus, the use of inexpensive, abundant materials and low-cost fabrication strategies. One candidate material that has the potential to meet these requirements is Cu2ZnSnS4 (CZTS). CZTS has a favorable band gap for solar cell applications, is made entirely of abundant materials and has a high absorption coefficient to minimize the quantity of material used in devices.   >> More

Flexible solarcell cropped

The Center for Advanced Molecular Photovoltaics (CAMP) has a long-term goal of making it possible to print durable 15% efficient solar cells at a cost of $30 per square meter.  It brings together 17 research groups from Stanford and four other universities who work closely together as a team.   Projects involve designing  and synthesizing new molecules, fabricating and characterizing nanostructured films, testing and modeling solar cells, developing new transparent conductors, studying and improving long-term reliability and inventing new concepts for dramatically improving the efficiency.  >> More


Energy Storage

Nanotechnology sparks energy storage on paper and cloth (Cui Group)

The frontiers of energy storage research are expanding, thanks to the burgeoning science of nanotechnology. Stanford engineer Yi Cui and his team have manufactured new energy storage devices out of paper and cloth, with a range of potential applications. Their research also has shown that using silicon nanowires to replace carbon anodes in lithium ion batteries can significantly improve their performance.  >> More

Stanford researchers have moved from making batteries from paper to making batteries from cloth. >> More


Hydrogen Storage

In order for the transition to a hydrogen-based economy to become feasible and economically practical, many material challenges must be met.  Not the least of these is the engineering of a hydrogen storage material with high storage density (both gravimetric and volumetric), appropriate equilibrium pressure, favorable reaction kinetics, relative safety and low cost.  Metal hydrides represent one attractive way to store large amounts of hydrogen due to the very high potential volumetric capacity which can even exceed that of liquid hydrogen.  So far, however, no single material has met all the requirements needed for a practical, reversible on-board storage material. 

We combine the flexibility and control of physical vapor deposition to fabricate thin film samples with precise chemical compositions and microstructures in order to probe metal hydride reactions in a very controlled way.  Using a variety of thin film and powder characterization techniques (from x-ray diffraction to quartz crystal microbalance measurements and gas adsorption in a Sievert's type apparatus) we monitor the thermodynamic, kinetic and structural properties of these materials in order to gain a more fundamental understanding about the processes limiting their practical implementations.  By applying the knowledge learned from these highly controlled systems we can engineer materials to better meet the challenge of a hydrogen based economy.   

Our research focuses on metal hydride materials and carbon nanotube-based materials for hydrogen storage and we collaborate with other institutions, working at Stanford as well as NASA Ames Research Center and the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource. >> More