The Kourkoutis electron microscopy group focuses on understanding and controlling nanostructured materials, from complex oxide heterostructures to materials for battery and photovoltaic applications to biological systems. Electron microscopy is at the heart of each of our projects. The advancement of existing or the development of new electron microscopy techniques is therefore integral part of our research.
We use state-of-the-art electron microscopy techniques to study the microscopic properties of next generation energy materials, including semiconductor nanocrystal solar cell, all-Si tandem solar cells, fuel cells and batteries. The development of new energy conversion and storage technologies requires significant advances in understanding of structural changes at the many complex interfaces present in the electrodes and the electrolytes. Uncontrolled electrodeposition of metals at a battery anode, for example, has limited access to rechargeable batteries that offer ten-times the storage capacity of today’s batteries. Reliable methods for characterizing physicochemical changes at these complex interfaces are key to progress in the field.
If performed at cryogenic temperatures, electron microscopy also allows biological systems to be studied in their near-native environments. We apply and develop cryo-electron microscopy techniques to reveal the detailed molecular structure and organization of biological systems with the goal of understanding cellular processes and the function of individual macromolecules within their network.