Renewable & Alternative Energy Research

Research Groups

Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE) - UCSB

Current Projects and Collaborations

IEE — Solar Cells: At UC Santa Barbara, research based on the Nobel-Prize winning discoveries of Alan. J. Heeger is directed toward developing solar cells that can be painted, printed and mass-produced like newspapers or even woven into clothing.

IEE — Storage: The objectives are to develop new materials that overcome the power density and stability limitations faced by existing state-of-the-art materials in the conversion and storage of electrochemical energy. Emphasis is focused on fuel cells, lithium and ion flow batteries, and ultracapacitors and electrodes.

IEE — Thermoelectronics: Institute researchers are modifying materials to improve their thermoelectric performance.

Individuals ( * indicates affiliation with IEE)

Guillermo Bazan
Chemistry & Biochemistry

As winner of the Grand Challenges Explorations grant, Dr. Bazan has investigated semiconducting molecules that penetrate organism membranes. This research is used to convert wastewater into energy, a piece of technology which can help alleviate world sanitation problems. He has also done research to improve the efficiency of solar cells, using metal nanoparticles with organic devices.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
California NanoSystems Institute

Ted Bergstrom*
Economics

Dr. Bergstrom’s research includes work in resource economics. He has studied such areas as using the market to control pollution, the externalities of pollution, and the effect of finite resources on the market.

Institute for Energy Efficiency

Steven Buratto*
Chemistry

Dr. Buratto has conducted research which looks at the polymer films present in LEDs by using near-field optical spectrscopy and near-field scanning microscopy. Looking at these films provides direct insight into the functioning/performance of these devices. The films affect such factors as carrier generation, transport, and device lifetime. He has additionally researched proton-exchange membrane fuel cells. These fuel cells provide efficient power with a low environmental impact by generating electricity from chemical energy.

Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
Institute for Energy Efficiency
California NanoSystems Institute

Michael Chabinyc*
Engineering

Dr. Chabinyc studies energy storage and conversion. Some of his specific focuses include organic semiconductors and hybrid organic devices that can store energy. He has also researched photovaltaics, which use semiconductors to generate electrical power from solar radiation.

Member of Production & Storage Solutions Group at the institute for energy efficiency
Member of the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute

Bradley Chmelka*
Engineering

Dr. Chmelka works with nanotechnology. He studies, at a molecular level, some of the important materials involved in nanotechnological processes and how these materials are linked to one another. This new technology is used in energy conversion materials such as batteries and fuel cells.

Member of Production & Storage Solutions Group at the Institute for Energy Efficiency
Member of the Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Peter Ford
Chemistry

Dr. Ford is the Director of the Center for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks (CenSURF).  CenSURF has helped facilitate projects at UCSB and three other universities that aim to promote sustainable practices in the chemical sciences. These research projects include new ways to synthesize organic compounds like ethylene from fixed sources of carbon dioxide and the conversion of biomass solids like agricultural and forest waste products to industrial chemicals and fuels. Preparing chemicals and fuels from these renewable feedstocks will reduce the use of nonrenewable fossil carbon resources and the carbon footprint on the environment.

Co-principal investigator of the Center for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks

Glenn Fredrickson*
Chemical Engineering

Dr. Fredrickson conducts research that involves designing specialty block copolymers used to advance lithography strategies to shrink the dimensions of microelectronic devices. He works to make these devices faster and more energy-efficient.

Director of the Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials (MC-CAM)
Director of the Complex Fluids Design Consortium (CFDC)
Institute for Collaborative
Biotechnologies
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Craig Hawker*
Chemistry & Biochemistry

As director of the Material Research Lab at UCSB, Dr. Hawker has overseen research that unlocks the valuable polymers held in plastic food packages so as to use them to benefit society. His lab is working to transform polyactide plastics into specialty chemicals commonly used by industrial and food manufacturers. Dr. Hawker’s team hopes to recycle plastics into a material equally as valuable and useful.

Institute for Multi-scale Materials Studies
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
International Center for Materials Research
Materials Research Laboratory
Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute
Center for Nanotechnology in Society (NSF)
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Alan Heeger*
Physics

Dr. Heeger, a Nobel Prize Laureate, researches the technology of semiconducting and metallic polymers. Part of his research has focused on low cost, thin, flexible solar cells. Dr. Heeger has discovered a way to make solar cell materials soluble. This solar cell “liquid-ink” can be printed like a newspaper at very low cost, revolutionizing the solar cell manufacturing process.

Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute

Melvyn Manalis
Environmental Studies

Professor Manalis’s research interests surround the development of quantifiable sustainability measures, as well as integrated energy planning, industrial ecology, and green nuclear energy. He is also a member of the Economics and Policy Solutions Group that strives to understand the environmental and economic impact of energy efficiency advancements and investigate the range of ways that research, economics, and the environment interact to find policy solutions that proactively shape the market for the benefit of society.

Economics and Policy Solutions Group

Eric Matthys
Engineering

Dr. Matthys conducts Sustainability research, mostly in the Energy area. He is leading efforts in Solar Energy, especially on new Concentrated Solar Thermal approaches, as well as in Energy Efficiency projects, such as developing new technologies for HVAC systems for buildings and for ship propulsion.

Member of Production & Storage Solutions Group, Buildings & Design Solutions Group and Computing Solutions Group at Institute for Energy Efficiency

Eric McFarland
Engineering

Professor McFarland’s research focuses on facilitating cost-effective and environmentally sustainable production of chemicals and fuels. He helps to investigate new conversion processes and issues related to technoeconomics and sustainability.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute

Horia Metiu*
Chemistry

Dr. Metiu’s research involves searching for new catalysts in order to convert CO2 and natural gas into useful chemicals. He is also involved with work that uses electrochemistry to find a good system for energy storage.

Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Thuc-Quyen Nguyen
Chemistry

Prof. Nguyen studies new materials for organic solar cell applications with an emphasis on nanoscale characterization and structure-property-performance relationships. Organic solar cells have the potential to be a low cost, light-weight, and clean energy technology because they can be made from abundant materials and manufactured at room temperature from solution. Dr. Nguyen’s lab aims to develop higher-efficiency and more stable organic solar cell devices.

Institute for Multi-scale Materials Studies
Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
California NanoSystems Institute

George Odette*
Engineering

Dr. Odette’s research interests focus on developing materials for future fusion and fission energy systems that will improve safety and reduce waste issues. He also looks at materials issues related to the safety of the current fleet of light water nuclear reactors.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Eric Smith
Political Science

Professor Smith’s work focuses on U.S. public opinion and political behavior regarding energy and environmental issues. He investigates, for example, public support for or opposition to renewable energy production facilities and offshore oil drilling. He is also working on the problem of how much people know about energy and environmental issues and why people accept or reject factual claims about energy and environmental issues by scientists.

Carsey-Wolf Center

Galen Stucky
 Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Stucky’s research interests include biosystem processes (e.g., blood clotting, cascade chemistry, and hemostasis) and the chemistry associated with the efficient use of energy resources. He has done research that furthers the development of energy storage systems, including the use of solar photocatalytic synthesis to make high energy density useful chemicals, and he has studied the conversion of methane to chemicals and fuels.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Institute for Multi-scale Materials Studies
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
Materials Research Laboratory
Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute
UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Sangwon Suh
Bren

Dr. Suh’s research focuses on sustainability through understanding materials and energy exchanges between nature and humans. His work has involved carbon footprinting, understanding drivers of greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, and industrial ecology.

Member, International Resources Panel of UNEP; WRI; WBCSD
UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology

Frank Wudl*
Chemistry:

Dr. Wudl performs research on plastic solar cells. The goal of his work is to develop new materials and consider new concepts that improve the efficiency of solar cells.

Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Francis Zok*
Materials Engineering

Dr. Zok’s research interests include advanced cooling concepts for hypersonic space vehicles and nanomechanics of biological materials. He has also conducted research which focuses on energy efficient production and storage as part of the Institute for Energy Efficiency Production & Storage Solutions Group.

Institute for Multi-scale Materials Studies
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures (CeMMaS)
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Susannah Scott
Chemical Engineering/Chemistry and Biochemistry

As co-principal investigator of the Center for the Sustainable Use of Renewable Feedstocks (CenSURF), Dr. Scott has participated in projects that aim to promote sustainable practices in the chemical sciences. She has researched ways to synthesize organic compounds like ethylene from fixed sources of carbon dioxide. These synthesized products can be used as alternatives to nonrenewable fossil fuels.

Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials

Bruce Lipshutz
Chemistry

The Lipshutz Research Group at UCSB is committed to developing new green technologies that will transform the way in which organic synthesis is traditionally performed. Their use of chemistry provides an alternative to the use of toxic and flammable organic solvents that constitute the vast majority of the organic waste created by the chemical enterprise today. Through the use of newly engineered “designer” surfactants, which are environmentally benign, many of the most commonly used organic reactions can now be run in water at room temperature. (Original. Dr. Lipshutz conducts research in the field of green chemistry. His research team recently discovered a safer, more cost-effective chemistry lab approach which eliminates the need to use toxic organic solvents and allows labs to use water as a medium for dissolving reactants and catalysts. This change reduces pollution and lessens the quantity of waste generated by chemistry labs.

Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology

Martin Moskovits
Physical Chemistry

Professor Moskovits’ research interests falls into two broad categories: (i) plasmonics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and (ii) nanowire synthesis and nanowire-based sensing. In plasmonics, he has two major goals: the first is to create plasmonic analogs of photovoltaics and photosynthetic systems. Recently, his research group produced the first device ever reported which uses the electrons resulting from the decay of plasmons in gold nanorods to reduce hydrogen ions in water and uses the positive charges left behind to oxidize water to oxygen gas. The device is a free running cell floating in water, with light as its sole energy source.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Daniel Dawson
Valentine Eastern Sierra Reserve

Daniel Dawson is currently working on the construction of a “net zero energy” classroom/lecture hall. In 2012, he received a grand grant of State bond funds (Prop 84) from the CA Wildlife Conservation Board for the project. The grant is providing partial funding for three large infrastructure projects. The classroom is 2700 sq. ft., with 1700 of that in the main room, the remainder restrooms, and the lobby. For heating and cooling the classroom, he will employ ground source heat pump technology. The electric load from the heat pumps will be covered by roof mounted photovoltaic cells, resulting in a building that is a net zero consumer of fossil fuel for operation.

Natural Reserve System

Md Ershadul Alam

Dr. Alam has conducted research on lightweight structural materials that, if used, will cost less in terms of fuel and emit less CO2.

Michelle O’Malley
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Dr. O’Malley directs a group that is working to develop renewable biofuels from lignocellulose (plant waste).

California NanoSystems Institute