Research Groups

Institute for Energy Efficiency (IEE)
Institute for Collaborate Biotechnologies (ICB)
Center for Energy Efficient Materials (CEEM)
California Nanosystems Institute (CNI)
Marine Science Institute (MSI)
Materials Research Laboratory (MRL)
Center for Energy Efficient Design (CEED)
International Center for Materials Research (ICMR)
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures (CeMMaS)

Current Projects and Collaborations

IEE – Zero Net Energy Building Systems: Researchers are developing new, highly efficient control systems for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, sensors, lighting, and fully integrated smart building technologies to realize dramatic savings in building energy consumption.

Individuals ( * indicates participation in IEE)

Md Ershadul Alam
Chemical Engineering

Dr. Alam has conducted research on lightweight structural materials. especially magnesium based, that if used, will cost less in terms of fuel, reducing CO2 emissions.

Bassam Bamieh*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Bamieh’s research is in the area of controls engineering, which underlies most automation technologies that make machines and processes smart and adaptive. He is currently working on the design of smart Thermoacoustic energy conversion devices in which mechanical work is done by powerful pressure waves rather than pistons or turbines. These devices convert heat to acoustic power with relatively high efficiencies and almost no moving parts, and they areparticularly suited to small-scale solar thermal power applications.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Control, Dynamical Systems and Computations

Kaustav Banerjee*
Electrical and Computer Engineering

Dr. Banerjee is currently researching the physics, technology, and applications of low-dimensional nanomaterials (including graphene and other 2D materials) for next-generation green electronics, photonics, and bioelectronics. These nanomaterials can be used to design low-power, low-loss, and ultra-energy efficient active and passive nanoelectronic devices. His group is innovating tunneling transistors, ultra-sensitive biosensors, interconnects and on-chip inductors uniquely enabled by 2D layered materials that can provide a new platform for next-generation energy-efficient computing, sensing, communication, and energy storage, and thereby accelerate emerging application paradigms such as the Internet of Things that promises unprecedented connectivity of people and information, and also lead to significantly lower carbon emissions.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
California NanoSystems Institute

John Bowers*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Bowers' research team created an LED reading lamp that is solar-powered, cost-effective, and highly efficient. The circuit of the lamp is designed so as to provide triple the output of a normal AA battery. This design was transferred to a nonprofit, Unite to Light. Manufactured lamps were shipped to Ghana in 2010 at a cost of $7 per lamp, roughly the amount a family in Ghana would spend on kerosene for 2 months. Unite to Light has sent 220,000 such lights to people in need of a sustainable light source. The research group has since delivered thousands of solar powered cell phone charger lights. Dr. Bowers' research also includes work on more efficient silicon photonic transceivers, thermoelectric materials for waste heat recovery and on concentrated photovoltaic devices for more efficient solar power.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
California NanoSystems Institute
Solid State Lighting and Energy Center

Forrest Brewer
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Brewer worked on low-power signal processing systems based on 1-bit serial data-flow. These systems allow the construction of micro-power digital signal processing systems for use in e.g. hearing aids or MEMs devices. Ostensibly, they can reduce the power needed used in signal processing by 80-90% and the total power by 35-50% for audio-rate systems. This could lead to substantial reduction of the use of primary batteries in such applications. Dr. Brewer is also building stable IOT clocks and timing circuits for applications like LiDAR.

California NanoSystems Institute

Bradley Chmelka*
Chemical Engineering

Dr. Chmelka's research seeks to analyze, understand and control the atomic-level processes that govern syntheses, processing, and the resulting macroscopic properties of heterogeneous engineering materials for energy and environmental applications. His interests include zeolite catalysts for hydrocarbon conversions or automobile pollution mitigation, electrochemical materials for fuel cells and batteries, solid-state phosphors and organic photovoltaic materials for lighting, low-CO2-footprint cements for structural solids, and adapting biological molecules or processes to synthesize materials with novel properties under environmentally benign conditions.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Materials Research Laboratory 
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Larry Coldren*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Coldren has worked to develop new photonic integrated circuit (PIC), as well as vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser (VCSEL) technology. This technology has many applications. It can be used in laser printers and biological tissue analysis, and it is widely used in fiber optics. Fiber optics is a field that focuses on transmitting information by sending light pulses through an optical fiber. As a member of the Electronics and Photonics Solutions Group at the Institute for Energy Efficiency, Dr. Coldren has worked to make these devices high-speed and efficient.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Optoelectronics Technology Center
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Solid-State Energy & Lighting Center
Interdisciplinary Center for Wide Band-gap Semiconductors
California NanoSystems Institute

Steven Den Baars*
Materials

Dr. Den Baars' research interests include growth of wide-bandgap semiconductors and their application to Blue LEDs, lasers, and high power electronic devices. His research is used for the fabrication of new semiconductor devices. This research is important to the development of more energy-efficient lighting. LED Lighting is 9 times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, has the potential to save more than $40 Billion in annual energy savings per year, as estimated by the Department of Energy (DOE).

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Solid-State Energy & Lighting Center
Interdisciplinary Center for Wide Band-gap Semiconductors
Center for Energy Efficient Materials

Bryan Eisenhower
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Eisenhower's research has two main thrusts: 1) tools for data analysis, aggregation, and visualization of building performance data, and 2) methodologies to enhance design and operations of buildings, using model-based engineering. Buildings generate enormous amounts of data that are rarely studied. By creating algorithms that can precipitate key features of their performance, faulty equipment and suboptimal performance can be identified and addressed. Similarly, by improving models used for building design, optimized design and operational strategies can be identified. Dr. Eisenhower's research is creating new ways to analyze building data and use engineering models leading to high performance building designs.

Center for Energy Efficient Design (Associate Director)

Kimberly Foster (formerly Kimberly Turner)
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Foster's research interests include the development of synthetic adhesives that make use of large arrays of micrometer and submicron hierarchical polymer fibers for climbing robots by mimicking the fibers on gecko feet. This is a good example of technology based on biomimicry.

California NanoSystems Institute
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Glenn Fredrickson
Chemical Engineering & Materials

Dr. Fredrickson conducts research that involves designing specialty block copolymers used to advance lithography strategies to shrink the dimensions of microelectronic devices. He works to make these devices faster and more energy-efficient. Other research in his group aims to develop improved copolymers and processes for polymer membranes that reduce the energy requirements of water purification.

Mitsubishi Center for Advanced Materials (Director)
Complex Fluids Design Consortium (Director)
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
California NanoSystems Institute
Materials Research Laboratory

James Frew
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

Dr. Frew's research interests lie in the field of Environmental informatics, and information management. Subsets of this include remote sensing, image processing, massive distributed data systems, digital libraries, computational provenance, science data archives, and array databases. He currently advises the UCSB Library on research data curation, and has research funding for data citation (NSF) and satellite image databases (Intel Corp.)

Earth Resource Institute (Principle Investigator)

John Gilbert*
Computer Science

Professor Gilbert works with the Greenscale Center for Energy-Efficient Cooling to develop solutions to the rapidly increasing cost of powering data centers around the world. His research in high-performance computing and engineering is applied to cooling technologies for energy-efficient computational facilities by developing efficient numerical algorithms for computationally modeling airflows on supercomputers.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Greenscale Center for Energy-Efficient Computing

Michael Gordon
Chemical Engineering

Professor Gordon's research focuses on the synthesis, characterization, engineering, and simulation of nanostructured materials and systems for photonics, energy, and chemical conversion applications. Our lab seeks to understand how size, morphology, organization, and surface structure affect the physicochemical properties and behavior of materials over different length, time, and energy scales. Application areas include enhancing efficiency of solid state lighting and display materials, CO2-free conversion of alkanes to hydrogen, materials processing with atmospheric pressure plasmas, and electrochemical manipulation of biomolecules.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Trevor Hayton
Chemistry & Biochemistry

Prof. Hayton works with his research group on projects involving the synthesis and characterization of new inorganic and organometallic molecules and nanomaterials. These new materials are needed for a diverse variety of applications, including catalysis, energy science, sustainability, and nuclear waste clean-up.

Alan Heeger
Physics

Dr. Heeger, a Nobel Prize Laureate, researches the technology of semiconducting and metallic polymers. Part of his research has focused on low cost, thin, flexible solar cells. Dr. Heeger has discovered a way to make solar cell materials soluble. This solar cell "liquid-ink" can be printed like a newspaper at very low cost, revolutionizing the solar cell manufacturing process.

Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute

Chandra Krintz*
Computer Science & Media Arts and Technology

Professor Chandra Krintz's research interests focus on distributed computing advances that reduce energy consumption and ease development and deployment of software. Her team uses these technologies to facilitate sustainability science and engineering for the domain of agriculture. The project, called SmartFarm, couples sensor data with farm-local measurements and statistics, provides an interface into which custom analytics tools can be plugged and automatically deployed, and ensures that all data and analyses remain securely under the control of growers. SmartFarm enables growers to extract actionable insights from their data, to quantify the impact of their decisions and Environmental changes, and to identify opportunities for increasing farming sustainability and productivity. Professor Krintz has also extended this work for use in conservation science and ecology. Using non-invasive cameras, Krintz and her team, in collaboration with researchers from multiple disciplines, develop computer systems that automatically collect and extract information about wildlife and ecosystem health from videos and images for use in sustainability studies.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
RACELab

Brandon Kuczenski*
Bren School of Environmental Science & Management

Brandon Kuczenski is a researcher and consultant in industrial ecology. His research focuses on methods and applications of life cycle assessment, with particular attention to the problems of data reuse, critical review, and transparency and reproducibility of study results. He is interested in the development of Web-based technologies for sharing product system models, and cryptographic techniques for protecting the privacy of confidential information during publication. He also studies the Environmental implications of waste management, recycling, and extended producer responsibility.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Institute for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Research

Bruce Lipshutz
Chemistry & Biochemistry

The Lipshutz Research Group at UCSB is committed to developing new green technologies that will transform the way in which organic synthesis will be performed. Their technologies provide alternatives to the use of toxic and flammable organic solvents that constitute the vast majority of the organic waste created by the chemical enterprise today. Through the use of newly engineered "designer" surfactants, which are environmentally benign, many of the most commonly used organic reactions can now be run in water under mild conditions.

Upamanyu Madhow*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Madhow's ongoing research investigates the architecture of next generation wireless communication and sensor networks, with the goal of obtaining order of magnitude gains in energy efficiency.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies

Eric Matthys*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Matthys conducts Sustainability research, mostly in the Energy area. He is leading efforts in Solar Energy, especially on new Concentrated Solar Thermal approaches, as well as in Energy Efficiency projects, such as developing new technologies for HVAC systems for buildings and for ship propulsion .

Institute for Energy Efficiency

Robert McMeeking*
Materials & Mechanical Engineering

Dr. McMeeking undertakes research on lithium-ion batteries and solid oxide fuel cells with the aim of improving their energy capacity, increasing their ability to deliver high power, and, in the case of batteries, enabling them to be recharged rapidly. Both lithium-ion batteries and solid oxide fuel cells are important elements in the strategy to reduce carbon emissions, as energy generated by low carbon emission methods can be stored and transported in the batteries, and solid oxide fuel cells can use hydrogen as the fuel, thereby avoiding the production of carbon dioxide. McMeeking uses computational modeling of both systems to identify improved microstructures and designs.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
California NanoSystems Institute

Eckart Meiburg*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Eckart Meiburg investigates fluid flow problems in the atmosphere and the oceans, by means of large-scale computer simulations. In recent years, he has studied such problems as mixing of warm and cold water in the ocean, as well as the transport of sediment and biogenic particulate matter by oceanic currents. Understanding these processes is important for predicting the oceans’ ability to absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, which, in turn, represents a critical element in all climate models. Dr. Meiburg’s research finds additional application in the development of energy-efficient heating and cooling strategies for buildings.

Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Fluids
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Umesh Mishra*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Mishra researches electronics and photonics. He recently led a project to develop a new semiconductor technology that enables highly efficient power conversion at low cost in motor drives, electric vehicles, and power grid applications.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Advanced Nitride Electronics Researches
Solid State Lighting and Energy Center
Interdisciplinary Center for Wide Band-Gap Semiconductors
California NanoSystems Institute

Martin Moskovits*
Chemistry & Biochemistry

Dr. Moskovits' research interests falls into two broad categories: (i) plasmonics and surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) and (ii) nanowire synthesis and nanowire-based sensing. In plasmonics, he has two major goals: the first is to create plasmonic analogs of photovoltaics and photosynthetic systems. Recently, his research group produced the first device ever reported which uses the electrons resulting from the decay of plasmons in gold nanorods to reduce hydrogen ions in water and uses the positive charges left behind to oxidize water to oxygen gas. The device is a free running cell floating in water, with light as its sole energy source.

Institute for Energy Efficiency

Shuji Nakamura*
Materials & Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Nakamura's research interests include high efficiency, high power light emitting diodes (LEDs) for lighting and laser diodes (LDs). His discovery of p-type doping in Gallium Nitride (GaN), growth of first Indium Gallium Nitride (InGaN) and development of blue, green, and white LEDs and blue laser diodes (LDs) has enabled energy efficient lighting and displays.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Solid State Lighting and Energy Center

Thuc-Quyen Nguyen*
Chemistry & Biochemistry

Prof. Nguyen develops carbon-based semiconducting materials for organic solar cell applications with an emphasis on materials processing, nanoscale characterization, structure-property-performance relationships, and device physics. Organic solar cells have the potential to be a low cost, light-weight, and clean energy technology because they can be made from abundant materials and manufactured at room temperature from solution. Dr. Nguyen's lab aims to develop efficient semi-transparent organic solar cell devices for greenhouse and building integration

Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Institute for Terahertz Science and Technology
Mitsubishi Chemical Center for Advanced Materials
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
California NanoSystems Institute

George Odette*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Odette's research interests focus on developing materials for future fusion and fission energy systems that will improve safety and reduce waste issues. He also looks at materials issues related to the safety of the current fleet of light water nuclear reactors.

Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Institute for Energy Efficiency

Sumita Pennathur*
Mechanical Engineering

Dr. Pennathur measures, models, and predicts how fluids and molecules move. Specifically, she engineers nanotechnologies that harness the movement of fluids and ions within electric fields. Her lab has discovered and then employed the fundamentals of nanoscale electrokinetics to design novel rechargeable batteries; portable diagnostic devices; and low-power wearable biosensors.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Nanomedicine
California NanoSystems Institute

Kevin W. Plaxco*
Chemistry & Biochemistry

Professor Plaxco's research primarily involves the study of biomolecular recognition. In recent years, researchers have developed folding-based sensors that are selective enough to be employed directly in blood, soil, cell lysates, and other grossly contaminated clinical and Environmental samples. Because of their sensitivity, substantial background suppression, and operational convenience, these folding-based biosensors appear potentially well-suited for electronic, on-chip applications in pathogen detection, proteomics, metabolomics, and drug discovery. By supporting the low-cost, continuous monitoring of Environmental pollutants, the technology could have significant implications in Environmental quality control.

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Center for Bioengineering

Tresa Pollock
Materials

Professor Pollock's research considers new L12-Containing Cobalt-Base Alloys. These new structural and functional materials enable a multiplicity of paths to improved efficiency in energy generation, storage, transmission and conversion. While alternative energy technologies are highly desirable, for the foreseeable future fossil fuels will be a primary energy source. This motivates discovery of new structural materials that can increase the operating temperatures within energy generation systems and provide critically needed improvements in the efficiency of power generation.

International Center for Materials Research
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Materials Research Laboratory

Mark Rodwell*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Rodwell's research interests include extending the operations of electronics to the highest feasible frequencies. He also looks at communication systems and energy efficient semiconductor devices. His research group works to extend the operation of electronics to the highest feasible frequencies. Their research thus includes semiconductor devices (diodes and transistors), semiconductor fabrication process, circuit design, interconnects, instruments, and communications systems. Mark Rodwell’s research focuses on extending the operation of electronics to the highest feasible frequencies. His research interests includes energy efficient semiconductor devices (diodes, transistors, photodiodes), semiconductor fabrication process, circuit design, interconnects, instruments, and communications systems. Particular interests include THz InP (indium phosphide) bipolar transistors, nm III-V MOSFETs (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistors) for both VLSI (very large scale integration) and THz (terahertz) applications, and IC (integrated circuit) design above 50 GHz (gigahertz) in both III-V and Silicon VLSI technologies.

Institute for Energy Efficiency

Jon Schuller
Electrical & Computer Engineering

The Schuller Lab conducts research that concerns novel physical phenomena that occur when light interacts with objects of subwavelength dimensions. The goal of the research is to create smaller, faster, and more efficient photonics technologies and ultimately lead to a future where optical properties are controlled and engineered at the atomic or molecular level. In a recent publication in Optics Press, the researchers in the Schuller Lab discussed the application of their research into morphology dependent light trapping in thin-film organic solar cells. Their research in this area can be used in the future in low-cost lightning and energy harvesting devices.

Center for Polymers and Organic Solids
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute

Rachel Segalman
Chemical Engineering

Professor Segalman's research interests include investigating structure control over soft matter on a molecular scale through nanoscopic lengthscale for use in optimizing properties for applications ranging from energy (solar and thermal) to biomaterials. She works to understand the effects of structure on properties and function and to gain pattern control in these multidimensional problems. Segalman's research can be applied in developing materials for energy applications such as photovoltaics, fuel cells, and thermoelectrics.

Hyonsok (Tom) Soh
Mechanical Engineering & Materials

Professor Soh's lab develops advanced biosensors that are highly sensitive and specific with rapid results. Recently, his laboratory pioneered the development of real-time biosensors that can continuously measure specific biomolecules directly in living animals. Their study of integrated biosensors have many applications in medicine, defense, food safety, and Environmental monitoring. (font and size of font difference)

Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies
Center for Stem Cell Biology and Engineering
California NanoSystems Institute

James Speck*
Materials

Professor Speck's research focuses on high efficiency solid state lighting. This lighting is expected to be 10-20 times more efficient than conventional incandescent and halogen lighting and 2-3 times more efficient than fluorescent lighting.

Institute of Energy Efficiency
Solid State Lighting and Energy Electronics Center
Interdisciplinary Center for Wide-Gap Semiconductors (Director)
International Center for Materials Research
Center for Energy Efficient Materials
Materials Research Laboratory
California NanoSystems Institute

Luke Theogarajan*
Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Theogarajan is doing research about reducing the power consumption of moving data in data centers and other electronics interconnect. He also does work related to the neural system and particularly to neural prosthetic devices. Neural prosthetic devices offer a way to restore functions lost due to neural damage. He is currently investigating the use of potassium ions rather than electrons to communicate with neural tissue as part of this new technology. This method has already proved to be safer and require lower power to function than the approach currently used.

Institute for Energy Efficiency
Center for Bioengineering
California NanoSystems Institute

Francis Zok
Materials

Dr. Zok's research interests include advanced cooling concepts for hypersonic space vehicles and nanomechanics of biological materials. He has also conducted research which focuses on energy efficient production and storage as part of the Institute for Energy Efficiency Production & Storage Solutions Group.

Institute for Multi-scale Materials Studies
Center for Multifunctional Materials & Structures
Institute for Collaborative Biotechnologies