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Prof. Geoffrey Hutchison

Prof. Geoffrey Hutchison
Wednesday May 24th

Rational Design of Molecular Materials: Molecular Springs, Solar Cells & More


Present social and economic demands on energy sources are driving fundamental science and engineering research into alternative energy technologies. Our research focuses on combined experimental and efficient computational exploration of organic photovoltaics and piezoelectrics. We seek to find optimum or nearly-optimum materials properties through a combination of inverse design, genetic algorithms, and automated electronic structure calculations, combined with experimental synthesis and verification. With polymer solar cells, we have used a multi-objective genetic algorithm to uncover new design rules for highly-efficient targets. We also explore the charge transport in realistic, imperfect organic semiconductors to find surprising leads for "champion" morphologies in organic solar cells. In piezoelectric materials, we have pioneered a new approach, using conformational distortions of individual molecules in an applied electric field to drive a “bottom-up” distortion, with greater piezoresponse than many conventional inorganics.


Dr. Geoffrey Hutchison received a BA degree in chemistry from Williams College in 1999, conducting research with Prof. Lee Park and Prof. Enrique Peacock-Lopez. He received his Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Northwestern University in January 2004 jointly with Prof. Tobin J. Marks and Prof. Mark A. Ratner, studying transparent conducting polymers. Following his graduate work, he was a postdoctoral associate at Cornell University, working with Prof. Héctor D. Abruña and studied multi-metallic single-molecule transistors and lithium-ion batteries. He is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh and the recipient of the 2012 Research Corporation Cottrell Scholar award and was named a 2017 Scialog Fellow in Energy Storage. His research at Pitt focuses on the combination of experiments and simulations to rapidly design novel organic materials for piezoelectric and photovoltaic applications. (