Materials, Chemistry and Energy Sciences

PHOTO: Two SLAC researchers holding thin-film photovoltaic material in front of wash of sunlight.

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:


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.