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Illustration with bottom row showing a ball-and-stick model and top row showing an orange and black band.  In the ball-and-stick model, the yellow balls are sulfur, the light purple balls are tin, and the gray balls are zinc.  The middle section is a dense configuration of zinc sulfide (ZnS) molecules; to the right and left on this band is a more open, regular configuration of tin sulfide (SnS). The top image represents output from atomic force microscopy for the molecular sections. The outer SnS sections exhibit a thinner irregular black band, and the central ZnS section exhibits a dense black band.

State-of-the-art advances in materials science come from a combination of experiments and computations. The image shows modeled electronic density of states (top panel) of the experimentally observed amorphous/crystalline interface (bottom panel). Note the electronic states that appear in the bandgap of the narrow-gap crystalline semiconductors (left and right sides of the image) when it is placed in contact with the wide-bandgap amorphous material (middle of image).

The Materials Science Center at NREL provides fundamental and applied materials science discovery and problem-solving for current and next-generation renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. Our goal is to be a recognized leader in creating new knowledge and accelerating the industrial impact of materials science research in support of the nation's energy and environmental goals.

Our areas of focus include materials physics, electronic structure theory, analytical microscopy and imaging science, interfacial and surface science, materials discovery, and thin-film material science and processing for photovoltaics and other energy applications.


Nancy Haegel is the director of the Materials Science Center. The center is part of the Materials and Chemical Science and Technology directorate, led by Associate Laboratory Director Bill Tumas.