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Materials and Chemical Science and Technology

The Materials and Chemical Science & Technology (MCST) directorate's capabilities span fundamental and applied R&D for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Key program areas include solar energy conversion for electricity and fuels, materials discovery and development for renewable energy technologies, hydrogen production and storage, and fuel cells.

The MCST directorate—led by Associate Laboratory Director William Tumas—includes the following four centers.

Materials Applications and Performance Center

The Materials Applications and Performance Center focuses on advancing photovoltaic science and technology and providing leadership in three broad areas.

  • We are working to increase cell efficiency and reduce manufacturing costs for the highest-efficiency PV devices involving single-crystal silicon and III-Vs. We have quickly emerged as key players in developing low-cost, manufacturable techniques for further increasing the efficiency of advanced silicon cells, and continue to be at the forefront of developing the highest-efficiency III-V multijunction cells for both space and high- concentration terrestrial applications. We are also a driving force in two new areas: 1) low-cost III-V PV cells for 1-sun and low-concentration terrestrial applications and 2) very high-efficiency silicon-based tandem cells.

  • We are focused on all aspects of PV reliability, which can increase the service life of a PV system and reduce or eliminate sources of efficiency degradation. We are also an international convener of the global PV community in developing PV module testing methods and standards. We are world-renowned for our work in PV reliability research, identifying root causes and quantitative modeling of PV module degradation and failure modes.

  • We are one of the world's premiere laboratories in measuring the performance of PV cells and modules of any technology. As one of four recognized primary PV reference cell calibration laboratories in the world, our Cell and Module Performance testing labs are relied on by the global PV community to produce the most accurate measurements. Along with AIST in Japan and Fraunhofer ISE in Germany, the NREL lab has proven competence for independent efficiency measurements on any 1-sun or concentrator PV technology.

The Materials Applications and Performance Center conducts its research within three areas:

Materials Science Center

The Materials Science Center provides fundamental and applied materials science discovery and problem-solving for current and next-generation renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. The center's 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.

For more information, visit the Materials Science website.

View the list of Materials Science Center research staff.

Chemistry and Nanoscience Center

The Chemistry and Nanoscience Center investigates materials and processes for converting sunlight into chemical and electrical energy and conducts theoretical studies and fundamental experimental research on optoelectronic materials.

Learn more about Chemistry and Nanoscience.


View the list of Chemistry and Nanoscience Center research staff.

Materials and Chemical Science and Technology Research Operations Center

The MCST Research Operations Center leads the strategic development of new R&D capabilities and facilities within the MCST directorate, ensuring that these capabilities and facilities remain relevant to new industry directions. In addition, staff members support core research activities, develop business systems and databases, and conduct research within the Engineering and Informatics group. This includes overseeing the research operations of three research facilities:

View the list of Research Operations Center staff.

Fellows and Emeriti

The following fellows and emeriti are associated with MCST.