Led by Prof. Jeffrey C. Grossman, ‘The Grossman Group’ at Massachusetts Institute of Technology works on a wide variety of energy related topics. Specific to solar energy, the main topics include Solar Thermal Fuels and Photovoltaics (PV).
Simply put, Solar Thermal Fuels topic refers to transferring & storing solar energy in the form of molecular bonds. These are chemical bonds and once they are broken, the stored energy is released in the form of heat.
The main problems with Solar Thermal Fuels are that the materials are expensive and they degrade after a few cycles of energy conversion.
In Photovoltaics, semiconductor materials are used to produce electricity from sunlight. Prof. Grossman strongly believes in multidisciplinary perspective to solving problems with a wide spectrum of computational approaches. This vision is clear in the way the Grossman Group tackles Photovoltaics topic. They work includes several semiconductor materials used in forms of Quantum dot (QD), Monolayer-based, Amorphous-Si (a-Si), and 3-Dimensional solar cells. The 3-D solar cells is a new & unique concept and we will be following the Grossman Group’s work in this field with great interest. To simply put, the main idea behind the 3-D solar cells is the limitation that the movement of Earth causes with respect to 2-D solar cells deployed. These 2-D solar cells work the most efficient at certain part of the day due to the angle towards the sun. With 3-D solar cell approach, the Grossman Group is trying to overcome this limitation by having different parts of the solar cell structure face the sun with the perfect angle throughout the day.
Since the electricity is produced directly from sunlight, one of the main limitations of PV is that the solar cells do not work as efficient as they normally do in cloudy weather conditions. Similar to Solar Thermal Fuels, cost of the materials is again a big problem. Government incentives in US encourage the use of PV in households (in the form of solar panels) by helping tackle the latter problem.
Prof.Jeffrey C. Grossman
Prof. Jeffrey C. Grossman is an Associate Professor of Power Engineering in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at MIT. Before joining MIT in 2009, Prof. Grossman was the Director of a Nanoscience Center & the Head of a research group at U.C. Berkeley.
Prof. Grossman has a B.A. degree in Physics from Johns Hopkins University, an M.S. degree in Physics and a Ph.D. degree in Theoretical Physics from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. He has over 100 publications and 10 current or pending patents.
For more visual learners, we suggest a course of Prof. Grossman, composed of 24 lectures (each about 30 minutes), available via digital download or the form of DVD in the following link:
Short video clips that involve Prof. Grossman are also available online:
One of the most important virtues of Prof. Grossman is his strong belief in multidisciplinary perspective to solving problems with a wide spectrum of computational approaches. More information about Prof. Grossman’s academic biography can be found in this link.
Prof. Grossman also takes an active role in his community. He gave public lectures during his time in the Bay Area and he does the same today in Boston. Prof. Grossman also appeared in multiple television shows and was a guest speaker for several forum and outreach events. More information about Prof. Grossman’s community related activities can be found in this link.