Materials Discovery

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

Our experimental activities in inorganic solid-state materials range from basic science through applied research to device development across a broad variety of energy applications. In addition, we work closely with collaborators that specialize in the electronic structure theory of novel materials.

Research Areas

Our team works on multiple research projects in basic energy science of materials discovery and across multiple energy-related applications of new materials.

Experimental Methods

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.

Materials Synthesis and Characterization

Our synthesis and characterization efforts in materials discovery rely on a high-throughput experimental combinatorial materials science approach, followed by traditional targeted experiments. 

Research Approach

A process wheel showing how photovoltaics, optoelectronics, and microelectronics are developed through the technology readiness levels

Technology Readiness Levels

Our research approach to materials discovery spans multiple technology readiness levels, from basic scientific research to device development and integration.


Materials Discovery, NREL Fact Sheet (2021)


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