Materials, Chemistry and Energy Sciences
Materials, chemistry and energy sciences are central to many of today’s most critical technical challenges:
- Can today’s photovoltaics be improved to make the technology more affordable?
- What new materials can make electric batteries more powerful and longer lasting?
- Can we make fuels from solar energy directly, through artificial photosynthesis, or indirectly through biomass or electrochemical processes?
- Can we find new catalysts that will enable a more sustainable chemical industry?
SLAC scientists are seeking answers to these important questions and many others through interdisciplinary research programs and by providing world-class facilities for use by thousands of researchers from dozens of countries.
They collaborate with Stanford researchers on work in three research centers:
At the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES), physicists, materials scientists, chemists and earth and environmental scientists design new generations of materials aimed at creating clean, economical energy conversion and storage technologies. These materials are designed from the atom up, using a combination of theory, computer simulation, lab synthesis and testing under realistic conditions.
Researchers at the SUNCAT Center for Interface Science and Catalysis combine theory and experiment to design catalysts for promoting chemical reactions, such as water splitting, that are important for gathering and storing solar energy. Their catalyst design strategies are based on a combination of theory, synthesis, characterization and testing. They’re also developing databases of surface chemical properties and making them freely available to researchers in academia and industry.
Scientists affiliated with the Stanford PULSE Institute use intense laser pulses, each measured in millionths of a billionth of a second, to image and analyze chemical reactions, phase transformations and magnetic switching. Understanding these phenomena helps improve technologies that rely on them.
Many of these studies employ intense X-ray beams from SLAC’s Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Lightsource and Linac Coherent Light Source, often in combination with other energy pulses, to image the structures and discover the behavior of atoms and molecules with unprecedented resolution, as well as test devices under realistic operating conditions. The results give researchers new scientific insights and help them develop promising technologies.