Converting abundant natural resource cleanly and efficiently into electricity is one of the single most important challenges of the next 20 years. This is a materials problem. In fact, this may be the biggest materials problem of our lifetime or even “ever.” The understanding and discovery of new materials will be the key to realizing the massive challenge of providing clean, abundant energy on a global scale. We have to discover new materials to generate energy that are abundant, inexpensive, efficient, and scalable. The materials in use toda
y will simply not do if we are to genuinely address the problem of global warming, since they cannot address all of these needs simultaneously. Innovation, understanding, enormous amounts of creativity and hard work, and genuine collective efforts between the scientific and engineering disciplines will be essential.

Our research program places substantial effort in applying quantum and classical simulations to the challenge of tailoring new materials for applications in energy conversion, with specific focus on understanding and predicting important properties in photovoltaic and thermoelectric materials. In each of these types of energy conversion, new materials have been discovered very recently that show enormous promise for dramatic improvements in conversion efficiencies at substantially reduced costs.  Yet, many of the central mechanisms that govern the conversion efficiencies in these materials remain poorly understood and therefore difficult to control. 

The role of computation for energy conversion is therefore paramount. Computational modeling holds high promise to accelerate the key discoveries in energy conversion: it is now possible to predict many properties of materials without any experimental input so that one can probe a given material through "virtual synthesis" before the real synthesis in the laboratory. Our approach is thus as follows: first, computational approaches are used to understand the fundamental mechanisms that cause a given material to convert some form of energy into electricity, and then we apply this understanding to predict new materials with improved efficiencies and performance.

For more detailed information about our research efforts in energy conversion materials please click on either of the links below.

Materials for Photovoltaic Energy Conversion

Materials for Thermoelectric Energy Conversion


Energy Conversion

Home / Research / Energy Conversion

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge MA 02139-4307