My primary research focus is on energy technology. Fossil fuels, with their fantastic energy density and abundance, have shaped human societies since the industrial revolution. Scientists have realized, though, that their continued use is changing the very climate of the earth, and the ramifications of such climate change are unknown. We do, however, know this: as a human species, we have never lived in the atmosphere in which we now live. We are in uncharted waters.
Thus, we must force a transition toward energy sources which do not affect the global climate. It is a massive challenge. Many of the alternative technologies are unproven in the field and incompatible with current infrastructures, use exotic or toxic materials, are prohibitively expensive, and/or challenge the vested interests of entire industries, demographic groups, and nations. Furthermore, to avoid potentially catastrophic climate changes, this transition must begin now and approach completion within 50 to 100 years. It will not be painless, but the alternative to action is a path which is not sustainable and potentially calamitous for society as we know it.
My work seeks to create materials composed of abundant resources which efficiently harvest solar energy. My colleagues and I in the Mazur Group at Harvard use ultrafast pulsed lasers to create these materials; we are studying what their special properties are, how they arise, and how we can control them. In this way, we hope to reduce the cost of solar energy significantly - both photovoltaic energy (where light is directly converted into electricity) as well as solar hydrogen production (where light is used to split water into oxygen and hydrogen gas; the hydrogen can then be used as a portable fuel).
If you have an interest in learning more about my work or collaborating, don't hesitate to contact me by email.