His research program explores the use of nanostructured material architectures for solar energy conversion. From 1996 to 2006, he was a research staff member at the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York investigating using polymer self-assembly for fabrication of high-performance semiconductor electronics. During his career, he has also performed experimental research in low-temperature scanning tunneling microscopy, single-electron tunneling devices, superconductivity in metal nanoparticles, nanocrystal-based electronic devices, and ferroelectric non-volatile memories. He earned his doctorate in physics from Harvard University and bachelor’s in physics and mathematics from Vanderbilt University. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a member of the Board of Directors of the Materials Research Society, and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.
He received his bachelor's in chemistry from Reed College in 1990, and his doctorate in chemistry from Harvard University in 1996. He specializes in multi-disciplinary problem solving in the physical sciences and their corresponding engineering disciplines. Over his 22-year research and development (R&D) career, he has developed expertise in physical chemistry, chemical kinetics, atmospheric chemistry, instrumentation, electronics (digital, analog, power, and RF), spectroscopic sensing, lasers, fiber optics and wave guides, classical optics, electro-optics, electromagnetics, electromechanical systems, heat transfer, materials science, mechanical engineering, manufacturing processes, and renewable energy technologies.
He has won four R&D 100 Awards, holds numerous patents, has 10 active licenses on his inventions, and given many invited talks on the subject of serial innovation. In 2015, he was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as its Inaugural SunShot Innovator in Residence. He invented the Radical-Ion Flow Battery under the SunShot Innovator in Residence Program to address the need for low-cost, highly scalable electrochemical grid storage, and the performance limitations of prior art battery chemistries in this demanding application. His current research portfolio is focused on electrochemical grid storage, the elimination of rare-earth magnets in wind turbines, and semiconductor thermal management (power electronics, CPUs, GPUs).
His research spans battery research, protonic conductors, and fuel cells. He supervises the daily operation of the Battery Manufacturing Facility (BMF) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). His recent work at ORNL focuses on material processing and characterization, roll-to-roll manufacturing, electrode engineering, and cell manufacturing for low-cost, high energy and power density lithium-ion batteries with long calendar life. He developed novel techniques for electrode manufacturing, such as aqueous processing and electron beam curing, to reduce processing cost and environmental effect. He also developed several techniques for quality control to reduce scrape rate in cell manufacturing. He holds a doctorate degree from University of Florida and bachelor’s and master’s degrees from University of Science and Technology of China. All are in materials science and engineering.
His research focuses on ferroic functional materials and their applications in clean energy and energy efficiency applications. Current research directions include caloric materials, such as elastocaloric materials for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning, refrigeration; application and magnetocaloric materials for gas liquefaction; advanced soft magnetic materials, such as high silicon electrical steel for inductors, transformers, and motors; permanent magnetic materials, such as Mn-based, rare-earth-free permanent magnetic materials and rare-earth permanent magnets with high toughness; high temperature anti-ferroelectric capacitor materials; and ferroelastic shape memory alloys. The overall materials development strategy is theory guided high throughput experimentation, utilizing DFT-based computation to identify alloy composition space and combinatorial bulk synthesis and scanning materials characterization techniques to discover, and down-select candidate compositions. He holds joint positions with Ames Laboratory and the Materials Science and Engineering Department at Iowa State University.