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Materials Discovery

Images of red and yellow particles

NREL's research in materials discovery serves as a foundation for technological progress in renewable energies.

Our experimental activities in inorganic solid-state materials innovation span a broad range of technological readiness levels—from basic science through applied research to device development—relying on a high-throughput combinatorial materials science approach, followed by traditional targeted experiments.

In addition, our researchers work closely with those who specialize in the electronic structure theory of novel materials.

Capabilities


High-Throughput Experimental Approach

An illustration showing interplay among the three activities of growth, characterization, and analysis. Growth of sample on circular stage leads to characterization of sample by incoming beam and measuring outgoing particles, with data being stored and analyzed by a computer system. The results then inform further growth of new samples.

Our high-throughput experimental approach capabilities include combinatorial thin-film synthesis, spatially resolved characterization, as well as data processing, analysis, and visualization.

Learn more about our high-throughput experimental approach.


Targeted Synthesis, Characterization, and Analysis

Once we identify the most interesting candidate materials by the high-throughput approach, they can be further optimized using targeted growth and measurement methods and specialized analysis algorithms.

Projects


Basic Research

The basic research projects are mostly funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the Office of Science's Energy Frontier Research Centers:

Center for Next-Generation of Materials by Design: Incorporating Metastability (2014–2018)

Center for Inverse Design (2009–2014)


Applied Development

The applied development is mainly supported by DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as a part of several projects focused on novel absorbers, transparent contacts, and other functional materials.

Learn more about our materials innovation efforts across technological readiness levels.


Contacts

Photo of Andriy Zakutayev

Andriy Zakutayev

Staff Scientist

Dr. Zakutayev specializes in design of novel semiconductor materials for energy applications using high-throughput combinatorial research methods.

Email | 303-384-6467

Photo of John Perkins

John Perkins

Staff Scientist

Email | 303-384-6606


The Materials Science Center is Part of the Materials and Chemical Science and Technology directorate, led by Associate Lab Director Bill Tumas.