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Research Centers

Center for Energy Research

The Center for Energy Research creates solutions to society’s growing energy supply challenges and utilization by fostering interdisciplinary research in fusion, renewables, etc.

Center for Wearable Sensors

UC San Diego is a world leader in developing ultralow-power, unobtrusive, highly adaptive wearable sensor systems that drastically reduce energy consumption while revolutionizing health, fitness and security. In addition, the center develops and improves technologies that are critical for deeply cutting energy and carbon footprints in many areas of industry and society.

Sustainable Power and Energy Center

UC San Diego battery researchers, solar cell researchers, materials scientists and industry partners are developing higher performance and lower cost technology for energy generation, storage and conversion.

Labs, Projects, Programs and Collaborations

Deep Decarbonization Initiative

The mission of the UC San Diego Deep Decarbonization Initiative is to help understand and guide the global economy as it moves toward net-zero carbon emissions. The aim is to understand how policymakers and investors shift from existing to new energy systems in the real world and the pace at which such transitions occur. It also explores how such shifts could be accelerated so that global carbon emissions tumble even as energy systems meet the needs of humanity.

Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion

The Laboratory for Energy Storage and Conversion (LESC) 's goal at the University of California San Diego NanoEngineering department is to design and develop new functional nanomaterials and nanostructures for advanced energy storage and conversion applications. Conversion of raw materials into usable energy and storage of the energy produced is common aspects of everyday life. The development of new materials to improve current capabilities is a key technological challenge of the 21st century. Advances will allow smaller, more powerful batteries and provide a greater ability to harness more sustainable energy sources. Our research integrates novel experimental techniques with ab initio computation methods for rational materials characterization and design.

Featured Researchers and Professors

Ahmed Y. Abdulla

Research Fellow, School of Global Policy and Strategy; Deep Decarbonization Initiative

Ahmed Abdulla works on questions related to energy policy and the challenge of deeply decarbonizing the electricity sector. Abdulla manages a diverse research portfolio, focusing on three research areas: multi-method studies that investigate the political economy of carbon-free technologies; public risk perception of clean energy technologies; and analyzing the performance of government research and development expenditures in energy technologies. The common thread interweaving these areas is how public spending in the energy and environmental space can be optimized where private enterprise is either unable or unwilling to contribute to solving societal problems.

Farhat Beg

Director, Center for Energy Research; Deep Decarbonization Initiative

Farhat Beg is an expert in Z-pinch discharges and the interaction of high-power laser pulses with matter and develops pulsed X-ray and neutron sources. Presently, he researches ultrahigh power interaction with matter. He uses 0.5 petawatts (i.e., 0.5 quadrillion watts) laser for these experiments. This power is more than 500 times the amount produced by all the power plants in the United States.

Renkun Chen

Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Faculty Member, Sustainable Power and Energy Center

Renkun Chen is an expert on thermal energy transport, conversion and management. He develops materials and devices for thermoelectric and solar thermal energy conversion. His research also includes developing wearable cooling and heating technologies to save energy use in buildings and homes.

Zheng Chen

Professor, NanoEngineering; Faculty Member, Sustainable Power and Energy Center

Zheng Chen develops environmentally friendly, efficient and economical lithium-ion battery recycling processes. The methods enable researchers to restore and reuse parts from spent lithium-ion batteries to build new high-performing batteries. His research also focuses on developing batteries for extreme environments like ultralow temperatures.

Carlos Coimbra

Associate Director, Center for Energy Research; Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Co-Director, Center for Renewable Research Integration

Carlos Coimbra explores the intersection between experimental, theoretical and fieldwork methods to analyze and develop new technologies to harvest solar power in diverse forms such as direct, wind and hydro.

Michael Davidson

Assistant Professor, School of Global Policy and Strategy; Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Michael Davidson researches the engineering implications and institutional conflicts inherent in deploying renewable energy at scale. He is particularly interested in systems within emerging electricity markets, including China, India and the western United States.

David P. Fenning

Professor, NanoEngineering; Faculty Member, Sustainable Power and Energy Center

David Fenning researches materials for solar energy conversion and storage. Currently, his work focuses on defects and reliability in silicon and hybrid perovskite solar cells and CO2 electrocatalysis for solar fuels.

Ryan E. Hanna

Assistant Research Assistant, Center for Energy Research

Ryan Hanna’s research focuses include energy systems, deep decarbonization and energy policy. Hanna’s present research includes the economic modeling of microgrids and investigating the extent to which decentralized energy supplies help decarbonize the electric grid. In addition, he studies how that paradigm is optimal with technical assessments of the feasibility of using direct air capture machines to scrub carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. He also contributes to work on the political economy of carbon capture and storage and driver behavior vis-à-vis electric vehicle use.

Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzales

Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Patricia Hidalgo-Gonzalez’s work focuses on the high penetration of renewable energy using optimization, control theory and machine learning. She codeveloped a stochastic power system expansion model to study Western North America’s grid under climate change uncertainty. She also works on power dynamics with low and variable inertia and controller design using machine learning and safety guarantees. She is generally interested in power dynamics, domestic and international energy policy, electricity market redesign to aid the integration of renewable energy, microgrids for wildfire risk mitigation, transmission and distribution systems and machine learning for dynamical systems with safety guarantees.

Jan Kleissl

Director, Center for Energy Research; Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Jan Kleissl is the principal investigator on a $39M grant to create a test bed to make it easier to integrate renewables into the grid. He is an expert on solar resource assessment and forecasting and vice-chair of the American Solar Energy Society resource applications division. Kleissl's research group has developed cloud tracking and intra-hour solar forecasting models using high-frequency solar irradiance measurements and whole sky imagery. These models are critical to facilitate the economical integration of large amounts of solar power into the electric grid.

Ping Liu

Professor, NanoEngineering; Director, Sustainable Power and Energy Center

Ping Liu designs and develops new safety features for lithium-ion and lithium metal batteries. His research also involves developing low-cost, long-life energy storage systems and studying electrochemical processes in these systems.

Shirley Meng

Professor, NanoEngineering; Director, Institute for Materials Discovery and Design

Shirley Meng investigates different chemistries to make better batteries for various applications. Her research focuses on the direct integration of experimental techniques with first principles computation modeling for developing new intercalation compounds for electrochemical energy storage.

Shyue Ping Ong

Professor, NanoEngineering; Associate Director, Sustainable Power and Energy Center

Shyue Ping Ong’s research focuses on data-driven computational design of materials for batteries, LEDs and aerospace applications. His lab builds sophisticated automation software frameworks to generate materials data at unprecedented scales and accelerate the discovery of new materials.

Joseph Wang

Professor, NanoEngineering; Director, Center for Wearable Sensors

Wang is an expert on wearable chemical sensors for noninvasive health monitoring and on-body energy harvesting. His research includes developing wearable microgrid systems that are sustainably powered by the wearer and the wearer’s environment.


Featured Courses

MAE 118. Introduction to Energy and Environment

Overview of present-day primary energy sources and availability: fossil fuel, renewable, and nuclear; heat engines; energy conservation, transportation, air pollution, and climate change.

MAE 119. Introduction to Renewable Energy: Solar and Wind

Overview of present-day primary energy sources and availability: fossil fuel, renewable, and nuclear; heat engines; energy conservation, transportation, air pollution, and climate change.