Overview

The Hillhouse Group's research interests and expertise lie at the nexus of nanomaterials and energy conversion. Within the realm of molecular and nanoscale science many new molecules, nanocrystals, electronic materials, and device architectures can be envisioned that may be able to address our current energy harvesting, utilization, and storage challenges. However, the scientific understanding of the chemistry and fundamental processes involved and the engineering necessary to develop economic and sustainable solutions is still in its infancy. Research efforts within the group span the range from fundamental studies of molecular precursor chemistry, nanocrystal nucleation and growth, and materials defect chemistry to device fabrication, characterization, and modeling of solar cells and fuel cells to system-level analyses of the life-cycle and impact of potential new technologies. This system-level approach is used to identify opportunities, avoid unforeseen consequences (like indirect market effects and environmental issues), and enlighten the molecular and nanoscale approaches we develop. Please see the Research page to learn more.

Recent News


September 2012: NSF Sustainable Energy Pathways Award

The U.S. National Science Foundation has awarded PI Hillhouse and co-PIs Alison Cullen, Daniel Gamelin, Christine Luscombe, and Xiaodong Xu a $1.9M grant to explore a "Sustainable Pathway to Terawatt-Scale Solution-Processed Solar Cells from Earth Abundant Elements." For more information see the NSF Press Release and the UW ChemE news page.


July 2012: Solar Fest

Solar Fest is an annual event that brings together exhibitors, educators, and the public in a festival like environment with food, live music, and plenty of demonstrations. This year there were over 109 exhibitors at Solar Fest. The event is organized by the Shoreline Solar Project for the purpose of promoting the practical application of renewal energy and environmentally responsible practices to enhance the economic, ecological, and social environment of our community. This year Research Group members Cori Bucherl and John Katahara help teach folks about solar energy and what may be possible in the near future.


June 2012: Hillhouse Group Moves into Beautiful New Digs

The Hillhouse Group moves into the brand new Molecular Engineering & Sciences (MolES) building. Other research groups that are also part of the new UW Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute will be moving in throughout the summer. The entire first floor is dedicated to solar energy research and is home to the Advanced Materials for Energy Institute. The expansive basement is the new home to the Nanotechnology User Facility (NTUF) and has additional instrumentation space.


March 2012: M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust Award

The M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust was created from the estate of Jack Murdock, co-founder of Tektronix. The Trust supports education, scientific research, and enrichment programs in the Pacific Northwest. The Trust awarded Hillhouse and UW colleagues an infrastructure grant to build a unique suite of solar energy materials deposition and characterization instruments.


January 2012: New Group Members

The Group welcomes Dr. Hao Xin and John Katahara. Dr. Xin joins the group as an Acting Instructor with a background in organic solar cells. John Katahara joins the group from Brown University after a summer research experience at the University of Tokyo with Prof. Tatsuya Okubo.


November 2011: Nanowerk.com Highlights Our CZTS Breakthrough

Nanowerk.com features a news highlight focusing on research from Wooseok Ki on a new solution-processing method to form copper zinc tin sulfoselenide solar cells using non-toxic environmentally benign solvents. The full journal article appears in Advanced Energy Materials. Link to Wooseok's article.


September 2011: DOE SunShot Award

The U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative, whose goal is to develop solar cells that cost just $0.50 per watt, supports the Hillhouse Group with an award. With these funds the Hillhouse group will develop and use combinatorial methods with nanocrystals and molecular precursors to explore the possibilities of new solar cells made with novel inorganic inks and understand their defect chemistry.


July 2011: Top 10 Most Read Articles in Chemistry of Materials

The American Chemical Society reports that group member Grayson Ford's article is one of the Top 10 Most Read Articles in the journal Chemistry of Materials during the second quarter of 2011. The article reports the discovery that germanium may be used to effectively tune the bandgap of CZTSSe solar cells without degrading the optoelectronic quality of the material. This important phenomenon may let researchers create graded bandgap devices and reach higher efficiencies. Two other UW faculty have articles in the Top 10 list, Prof. Alex Jen and Prof. Sam Jenekhe, both related to solar energy materials. What does it mean? UW faculty are having a major impact on materials development to harness the power of the Sun. Link to Grayson's article.


April 2011: Outstanding Young Alumni Award

Clemson University selects Prof. Hillhouse for their Oustanding Young Alumni Award for his contributions to research in energy conversion. Hillhouse will be presented with the award at the banquet on April 28 in Clemson, SC. Hillhouse graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Clemson in 1995.


January 2011: Hillhouse Lab Moves to Seattle

Group members pack-up the lab equipment and hand it over to the movers. After a brief separation and a few replacement purchases, researchers and equipment are reunited in Seattle, and the lab is back up and running.


December 2010: Phys.org Highlights Group Research

Phys.org highlights the recent JACS article by group member Qijie Guo on the development of copper zinc tin sulfide nanocrystal-ink based solar cells that are 7.2% efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. Link to Qijie's article.


November 2010: National Geographic News Feature

National Geographic posts a new article titled "Shining Light on the Cost of Solar Energy." The piece pulls together thoughts from Prof. Hillhouse and researchers from GE, NREL, and several other instituitons to understand the cost of solar energy.


September 2010: RCSA Awards Scialog Fellowship to Hillhouse

Research Corporation for Science Advancement (RCSA) selects Hillhouse for the inaugural class of awardees of their Scialog Fellowship on Solar Energy Conversion. The award provides unrestricted funds for the Fellows to pursue high-risk high-reward ideas that may lead to breakthroughs in the conversion of solar energy into electricity or fuels.


August 2010: University of Washington

After 8 wonderful years in the School of Chemical Engineering at Purdue University, Hillhouse accepts the Harry A. & Metta R. Rehnberg Endowed Chair Professorship at the University of Washington. The Rehnberg Chair was created in 1979 with a gift from Metta Rehnberg and was the first endowed professorship in Engineering at the University of Washington. While sadly leaving many good friends and colleagues at Purdue, he joins the ChemE Department at UW where he worked under Prof. John Berg 15 years ago. See the ChemE Departmental news item.


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