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Solar Energy

What: Our "Full Spectrum Boost Project" focuses on solar cells made of colloidal nanoparticles. Absorption is boosted at low energies by the Intermediate Band process and at high energies by Carrier Multiplication. Our cells transcend QCD: the Quantum Confinement Dilemma. Transport is modeled as ab initio-based Monte Carlo/Marcus hopping or Boltzmann theory. How: LDA, TD-DFT, GW, BSE, Lanczos methods, Molecular Dynamics, Kinetic Monte Carlo

Magnets for Energy and Recording

What : We are exploring the reversal mechanism of hard permanent magnets in order to improve their utility for alternative energy purposes. We study the competition of domain wall propagation and nucleation in sintered and nanostructured rare earth magnets. We are analyzing hard-soft composites.
How : Finite element LLG, FORC analysis: mean field + local corrections, OOMMF, analytic methods in one dimension, elastic rubber band method for barriers

Solar Desalination

What: We have invented photovoltaic desalination. We have provided the proof of concept experimentally. We are performing extensive simulations to analyze the dynamics of the desalination/flushing cycle, from the atomistic scale to simulating individual channels to building an effective medium theory for the device.

How: Finite element hydrodynamics, COMSOL hydrodynamics, effective medium theory

Glassy Systems

What: We are exploring the slow dynamics, the glassy phases and memory and aging effects of spin glasses, dislocation systems and Coulomb glasses. We also analyze the formation of avalanches and their statistics. Using scaling analysis, we research the conditions which give rise to Self Organized Criticality.

How: Parallel tempering and other accelerated Monte Carlo techniques, Scaling analysis


What: We are exploring the revolutionary memristor paradigm that promises to redefine the architecture of computers. We study the electronic transport with explicit inclusion of underlying vacancy dynamics. We treat the long range Coulomb interaction with care. We focus on the hysteretic switching phenomena and explore the role of oxide tunneling barriers

How: Molecular Dynamics, Long range interactions

What’s New

November, 2018: Group alumnus Austin Sendek just received his PhD at Stanford developing a new paradigm in the field of Li batteries. He is also founder and CEO of Aionics.io, a company that uses AI to identify promising battery materials. The world started to take notice of Austin’s achievements: recently Forbes magazine identified him as one of the “30 under 30 in Energy”. We are super proud of your achievements, Austin!


October, 2018: GTZ delivered a talk at Harvard, entitled: “A Deliberate Journey, Part I“, and “Part II


August 2018: prof. Helmut Katzgraber, alumnus of our group, just accepted a position at Microsoft as a leader of a research group on quantum computing! We are proud of you, Helmut!


June 2018: Luman Qu satisfied all requirements for his Ph.D.! Luman was subsequently offered a job at Google, which he took at the end of July! A fantastic achievement, super congratulations, Luman, our group is very proud of you!


Jun 2018: Chase Hansen passed his qualifying exam. Congratulations, Chase!


May 2018: Our proposal to study the degradation of Si HIT PV cells, in collaboration with the U. of Delaware and UC Merced, got encouraged as a finalist by the Sunshot program of the DOE.


May 2018: Luman Qu got all the signatures on his PhD thesis! Super congratulations, Luman!


Apr. 2018: Alumnus Marton Voros accepted a research scientist position at Samsung Research Lab in Santa Clara. Congratulations, Marton!


Feb. 2018: Toyota announced that a new type of magnet, whose development our team contributed to, is being introduced into the Prius hybrid cars.


Jan. 2018: Graduate student Davis Unruh, and undergraduate students Miguel Alba and Sonia Albrecht decided to join our group. Welcome Davis, Miguel and Sonia!


Summer 2017: Our group joined the UC-wide “Designer Mesoscale Quantum Dot Solids” collaboration.


2017 Aug: Our paper on the Metal-Insulator Transition in nanoparticle solids has been published in the Nature group journal Scientific Reports.


Nov. 2016: GTZ was invited by the California Energy Commissioner to give a presentation on photovoltaic water desalination at the Energy Commission in Sacramento.


Nov. 2016: Our patent on photovoltaic desalination, with co-inventors Luman Qu and GTZ has just been published by the US Patent and Trademark Office.