Five researchers in a lab.

NREL's chemistry and nanoscience research investigates materials and processes for converting renewable and clean energy resources such as sunlight, heat, and renewable fuels into chemical and electrical energy in the form of fuels or other chemical and electrical energy storage.

NREL conducts chemistry and nanoscience research across the entire spectrum—from foundational research to working closely with industry to commercialize new technologies.

NREL's primary research in chemistry and nanoscience includes:

Electrical Energy Storage

Lithium-ion and radical organic batteries

Hydrogen and Fuel Cells

Fuel cells, and hydrogen production and storage


High-efficiency crystalline photovoltaics, organic photovoltaics, perovskites, and performance measurements

Solar Photochemistry

Excitons to charge carrier in molecular and nanoscale systems, quantum-confined semiconductors, and solar fuels

Manufacturing for Energy Applications

Roll-to-roll manufacturing and atmospheric processing

Quantum and Carbon Nanomaterials

Carbon nanoscience, layered semiconductors, and thermoelectric materials

Our staff contributes across these technology program and science areas:

Molecular and Catalysis Science

Providing the nation with clean energy sources by studying and developing novel and efficient conversion of energy in sunlight into chemical energy and light-generated electricity

Spectroscopy and Photoscience

Developing spectroscopic tools to improve our understanding of physical phenomena in energy transformation processes and accelerate the innovation and adoption of energy conversion systems and devices

Electrochemical Engineering and Materials Chemistry

Providing a knowledge base in materials science covering fundamental issues that impact photovoltaics, electrochromic windows, high-temperature superconductors, hydrogen storage, and solid-state batteries

High-Efficiency Crystalline Photovoltaics

Developing low-cost, manufacturable techniques to further increase the efficiency of advanced silicon cells; continuing to develop the highest-efficiency III-V multijunction cells for space and high-concentration terrestrial applications; and pursuing low-cost III-V photovoltaic cells for 1-sun and low-concentration terrestrial applications and very high-efficiency silicon-based tandem cells

Cell and Module Performance

Performing a span of performance measurements across a range of cell and module technologies—including commercial, developmental, and research samples—for scientists in the photovoltaic industry and at universities

Jao van de Lagemaat is the director of the Chemistry and Nanoscience Center, which is part of the Materials, Chemical, and Computational Science directorate, led by Associate Laboratory Director Bill Tumas.