Research Projects

About Our Research

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.

2018 Cornell PhD Hooding

Congratulations to Ben Savitzky, Katie Spoth, David Baek, Jade Nobel and Michael Zachman!

Charge ordering - Bending and breaking of stripes

In charge-ordered phases, broken translational symmetry emerges from couplings between charge, spin, lattice, or orbital degrees of freedom, giving rise to remarkable phenomena such as CMR and MIT.

Cryo-Group 2018

Snowy Ithaca - perfect home for our cryo-group

Left to right: Berit, Lena, Ben, Michelle, Jade, Katie, Duncan, Ismail, Michael, David

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.
Si QD network for all-Si solar cells

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.

Arrangment of PbSe NCs

Three-dimensional arrangement of PbSe nanocrystals (NCs) in a laser annealed PbSe/a-Si nanocomposite film imaged by electron tomography. 

Atomically abrupt oxide interfaces

High-angle annular dark field images of a La0.7Sr0.3MnO3/SrTiO3 superlattice grown by pulsed laser deposition.

Electron Dose Series

Electron-dose series recorded on vitrified chromatophore vesicles in Rhodobacter sphaeroides, a purple bacterium.

Imaging Strain Fields

Strain fields at the low-angle twist grain boundary between SrTiO3 and Nb:SrTiO3 imaged by scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM).

Plasmon tomography reveals that the size, shape and density of Si QDs, that form in Si rich oxide (SRO)/SiO2 multilayers upon annealing, can be controlled by varying the SRO stoichiometry.