Novel Materials for Energy

Thermoelectic Materials

Thermoelectric materials capable of converting heat into power and vise versa can be used for a wide range of applications in freon-free refrigerators, waste heat converters, and direct solar thermal energy converters.

A unique class of host-guest compounds, Zintl clathrates exhibit Phonon Glass - Electron Crystal behavior and are considered promising TE materials. This research is supported by DOE BES.

HER/OER Catalysts

Hydrogen has been proposed to be a clean and carbon-neutral next-generation energy carrier. Compared with curretnyl used steam reforming, water electrolysis represents a cleaner and more sustainable approach to hydrogen generation, but is underdeveloped. To deploy electrolyzers on a large scale and to make the electrolyzed hydrogen fuel economically competitive, it is important to develop nexpensive, earth-abundant electrocatalysts to promote the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). We are working on transition metal phosphide, silicide, and boride catalysts. This research is supported by NSF CHEM CCAT program.


Binary tetrel-pnicitdes are layered v-d-W materials with exciting properties. Unlike phosphorene and realted materials, silicon- and germanium-pnictides are stable in acidic solutions which open possibilities for flux growth of large crystals using molten metals. Ternary metal tetrel-pnictides exhibit fascinating diversity of sructural motifs and plethora of properties. Polymorphism induced by preferential chemical bonding, ionic conductivity, and non-centrosymmetric semiconductors with second harmonic generation properties are examples of areas we are interested in. This research is supported by DOE BES.

Hybrid magnetics

Hybrid Fe-chalcogenide materials are a suitable platform to develop novel magnetic materials via understanding the structure-properties relationships. The main structural blocks are 2D FeQ layers or 1D FeQ chains (Q chalcogen). To understand the electronic and magnetic interactions in , it is preferable to study a highly tunable systems by systematic varying certain parameters, such as charge, size, connectivity, and spin state of interstitial coordination transition metal complexes. This research is supported by NSF DMR SSMC program.


Superconductors are an important type of materials capable of conducting electricity without energy loss and repelling magnetic fields. Our search for novel superconductors is guided by a synergistic computational/experimental approach. These studies are performed in a close collaboration between experimental (Kovnir) and theoretical (Ho, Antropov) groups at Iowa State University. Gieded by theoretical predctions we are searching for new superconductors in borides and borocarbides of two or more transition metals with unique electron-phonon interactions. This research is supported by NSF DMR EAGER program.

Solid ion conductors

All solid state lithium batteries are widely believed to be the critical advancement necessary to enable plug-in electric vehicles to ultimately replace internal combustion engine vehicles. So far, progress has been limited by the insufficient performance of solid electrolytes. In this project, we combine the skill sets of two research groups in inorganic synthesis and characterization of sulfur-bearing phases (Kovnir) and in electrochemical measurements and characterization and battery assembly (Martin) to investigate new solid Li-ion conductors. This research is supported by NSF CBET EAGER program.