Energy research at UC Irvine is focused on developing sustainable methods to meet current and future energy needs. Our goals are to solve major challenges in the collection and conversion of renewable energy, develop environmentally friendly routes to fuels and feedstock materials, design and demonstrate new processes that improve energy efficiency, and advance our understanding of energy conversion technologies. Applications targeted by our program include the cross-cutting and multi-disciplinary topics of solar photovoltaics, artificial photosynthesis (solar water splitting), thermoelectrics, fuel cells, batteries, heat management, desalination, multiple-electron-transfer catalysis, CO2 capture and conversion, interfacial (surface) chemistry, and nuclear fission. Students and Postdoctoral Scholars pursuing energy research at UC Irvine learn concepts and techniques that span across many chemical disciplines and into allied departments, such as Chemical Engineering, Materials Science, Physics, and Biology in order to develop the expertise to tackle and solve grand challenges on the frontiers of energy research.
Air Pollution and Climate Change
Atmospheric chemistry research in the Department of Chemistry at UC Irvine is focused on the fundamental chemistry of the air we breathe. Research in our program utilizes an interdisciplinary approach to understand and answer the most important issues in air pollution and climate change, and their impacts on human health and well-being. Our research encompasses a broad set of approaches that include spectroscopic and computational methods, gas phase chemistry, multi-phase studies on aerosol particles, field measurements of gases and particles, and modeling of chemical processes across a broad range of temporal and spatial scales. Students and Postdoctoral Scholars learn concepts and techniques across many disciplines to develop the skills necessary to tackle these global challenges to our environment and health. The research currently involves close collaborations within the School of Physical Sciences and with researchers in the Schools of Medicine and Engineering, as well as with Department of Energy National Laboratories and a number of international researchers.
Seeing the Unseen
Often chemistry occurs out of sight: the migration of a cancer cell, the motions of molecular catalysts, the transient contacts of proteins, and the reordering of lipids are but a few such examples. What we miss is important. The next generation of advances in chemistry hinges on gaining a never-before level of detail through advanced imaging and spectroscopy. Researchers at UC-Irvine are developing microscopy and spectroscopy techniques to see currently unseen processes and make the invisible visible. Students and postdoctoral scholars involved in imaging at UC-Irvine learn concepts and techniques that span across many “traditional” divisions of chemistry, biology, and physics in order to bring an interdisciplinary pallet of tools to bear on these grand challenges.
For each age of human history - bronze, concrete, silicon, polymers - new materials have paved the way in advancing our civilization. Where will we go in the future and what materials take us there? At UCI, we are building the next generation of materials to take us to mars, to improve electric cars, and to extend human life beyond 100 yrs. In each case, these big questions demand understanding the small details. What bonds can we break in a material so that it heals itself - making materials that last for generations? What are the right elements and in what structure will an anode store electric energy most efficiently? How do we exploit the molecular signatures on cancer cells to drop off payloads of cytotoxic drugs from the bloodstream? We seek to answer these questions by building new materials from the molecule up. We are looking for excited and passionate researchers to join us.