McGehee Group

Stanford University | Stanford Materials Science & Engineering |

Frequently Asked Questions

The most important announcement for prospective students and postdoctoral researchers is that Prof. McGehee is moving to the University of Colorado around April 2018. He will have a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Group members will be able to do their research both at the University and NREL. There is no better place to live and do research than Colorado and we hope you will join us.

1. What kind of research do you plan to do in the coming years?

Our research on perovskite solar cells and dynamic windows is going very well and we will definitely continue it for the next several years. Most of the solar cell team will be at NREL and will work very closely with the teams led by Joe Berry, Joey Luther, David Moore, Garry Rumbles, Jao Van de Lagemaat and Kai Zhu. With their help we hope to develop a deep understanding of perovskite solar cells and use it to make stable tandem solar cells with 30% efficiency and demonstrate that we can print them over at least 30 x 30 cm. The windows team will mostly be located in RASEI, which is in the new SEEC Building on the University of Colorado's East Campus, but will also collaborate closely with NREL researchers.

It is hard to predict what new ideas might emerge in the coming years, but they will probably lie at the intersection between organic electronics, perovskite semiconductors, nanotechnology, renewable energy and energy efficiency.

2. How do you manage the group?

The group is usually broken up into a few subgroups so that each student can be part of a team. The subgroups meet weekly and Prof McGehee meets individually with students as needed, which ranges from weekly to once every few weeks. The subgroups usually take a holistic view of a technology, trying to develop it in every way we can. In addition to making devices that function well, we take long-term durability and cost modeling very seriously to make sure that we are creating something that industry will be able to scale. Prof. McGehee provides opportunities for students to engage with industry both so that they understand what is needed for a technology to be successful and so they know what it would be like to work in industry.

3. How many students will you be taking this year and how do people join the group?

Mike typically takes two new PhD students each year.

4. From which departments will you take students?

Mike will be a Professor in Chemical Engineering at the University of Colorado in 2018. He will also be a Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Program as well as a Fellow of the Renewable and Sustainability Energy Institute (RASEI). He could take students from either of those departments, or even from Physics, Chemistry or Electrical Engineering.

5. What do you look for when you are selecting students?

While I like to see that a prospective student has done well in their courses at a strong undergraduate institution, there are other factors that I look for as well. I look for candidates with extensive research experience and strong recommendation letters from their supervisors. I also look for candidates that have excelled in extracurriculars, such as sports, music or service to charities or environmental organizations. I particularly like candidates who have demonstrated leadership and have excellent communication skills. I look for candidates who would love to do science even if it had no application, but who choose to devote their career to something that will make the world a better place.

Members of the group have very different skill sets. Some are extremely good at using numerical methods for modeling, others have a strong background in traditional materials science and others excel at building and using complex lab equipment.