Special Seminar: Designing New Materials for Renewable Energy Applications

Liping Yu, University of Colorado at Boulder and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Thursday, February 26, 2015, 4:00–5:00pm

Spanos Auditorium, Cummings Hall


Discovering new functional material is a crucial scientific grand challenge. Most currently used technology-critical materials were discovered by luck or trial-and-error experiment, and then subsequently improved incrementally over tens of years, at significant R&D cost. In this talk, I will present how to discover and design new materials for energy applications by a more effective approach of “inverse design”: given a set of target properties, predict the material that has them. This approach, powered by theory that guides experiment, places functionality first, and uses search and optimization strategies based on first principles calculations. As an example, this talk will focus on the inverse design of new earth-abundant thin-film photovoltaic absorber materials, which are critical in realizing the promise of thin-film solar cells for reducing the cost of sunlight-to-electricity compared to conventional crystalline silicon. I will present our recently developed novel selection metric of “Spectroscopic Limited Maximum Efficiency”. This metric takes into account the leading physics related to solar cell efficiency and goes beyond the commonly adopted “Shockley-Queisser Limit Efficiency” that depends solely on material band gap. Applying this metric to ternary chalcogenide (e.g., I-III-VI, I-VI-VI) materials has identified a set of promising thin-film PV absorber materials (e.g., CuSbS2 and Cu3SbS4).  At last, I will also discuss the research challenges and opportunities in inverse materials design for energy and other applications.

About the Speaker

Liping Yu received his Ph.D. in physics with a minor in mathematics from North Carolina State University in 2009, M.S. from Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics, and B.S. from Zhejiang University (China). He did his three-year (2009-2012) postdoctoral training in the “Center for Inverse Design”, an Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) funded by DOE, at National Renewable Energy Laboratory. After that, he became a research assistant professor in the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and the Materials Science and Engineering program at the University of Colorado at Boulder (2012-2014).  Currently, he is a research assistant professor in the “Center for the Computational Design of Functional Layered Materials”, a new EFRC at Temple University. Dr. Yu is an expert in computational design of materials for optoelectronic and electronic applications.

For more information, contact Haley Tucker at haley.tucker@dartmouth.edu.