My research is aimed at the challenge of meeting the growing energy needs of society and replacing fossil fuels with clean energy sources. The first thrust of my research focuses on creating materials that will be the building blocks of economical, large-scale, clean energy technologies of the future. The key to creating effective energy conversion materials is controlling the flow of energy, electricity and matter at the nanoscale by careful design of the shape, size and composition of materials at the same scale. I am primarily interested in developing new materials for cheap yet efficient solar cells that either generate electricity or directly generate chemical fuels. The second thrust of my research is to create methods to synthesize these materials rapidly, cheaply and at large scales that match the scale of our energy problem. We explore a large range of synthesis methods for nanostructured thin films including vapor and solution deposition, and flame synthesis. Students in my lab can expect to work on highly interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of materials science, solid state physics, and thermal sciences. I look forward to exploring these interesting topics with my students and encouraging them to apply their creativity to solving some of our most difficult problems!
Professional Highlights & Honors
The Worcester Business Journal reported on WPI and the University of Massachusetts Lowell partnering to award more than $111,000 in seed funding to six different teams, focusing on work ranging from human-robot collaboration to cancer detection and rehabilitation for stroke patients.
The Worcester Business Journal quoted Assistant Professor Pratap Rao, mechanical engineering, on how technological advancements have dropped prices of hydrogen and made it more feasible to store hydrogen for fueling stations.