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Group Members

Group Leader


Dr. Pulickel Ajayan
ajayan@rice.edu

Dr. Pulickel Ajayan is the leader of the Ajayan Research Group, which is involved in the research of advanced nanomaterials with specific application areas in alternative energy, multifunctional nanocomposites, and electronics/sensor technologies. Ongoing projects focus on the materials science and engineering of several technologies that will impact society in the future. Energy generation and storage, chemical sensors, nanoelectronics, flexible displays, high performance composites, membrane technologies, coatings, and biomedical technologies are some of the areas explored. With several collaborations at Rice and outside the group is involved in a multi-disciplinary team effort with the goal of developing functional nanomaterials for a rich variety of applications. The Ajayan Research Group is committed to changing the world through discoveries and development of new materials.


 

Faculty Research Fellow

Dr. Robert Vajtai
robert.vajtai@rice.edu

Dr. Robert Vajtai joined Ajayan’s group at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in July 2000 to spend his sabbatical with a NATO-NSF Fellowship. Robert received his M.S. degree in physics and his Ph.D. degree in solid-state physics from the University of Szeged, Hungary, in 1986 and 1997, respectively. From 1987 to 2002 he was a faculty member of the Experimental Physics Department of Szeged University, Hungary. He received the Bolyai Fellowship of the Hungarian Scientific Academy from 1999 to 2000. He also spent sabbatical time as a Fellow of the Swedish Institute in The Ångström Laboratory in Uppsala, Sweden, from 1998 to 1999; as an Eötvös Fellow at the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland, from 1995 to 1996, and he also visited the Max Planck Institute in Göttingen, Germany in 1993 via the Max Planck Fellowship. Between 2003 and 2008 he was a Laboratory Manager at the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, RPI, Troy, NY managing the nanoparticle generation by inert gas deposition and the carbon nanotechnology laboratories. He is currently a Faculty Fellow at Rice University. His work is focused on synthesis and applications of nanomaterials.


 

Postdoctoral Research Fellows

 


Dr. Babu Ganguli
babu.ganguli@rice.edu

Dr. Babu Ganguli joined Ajayan’s group in July 2016. He received a Master of Science (2006) in Chemistry from Central College, Bangalore University. Dr. Ganguli received his PhD in 2013 from CSIR-Central Electrochemical Research Institute, India. His research interests are in the interdisciplinary field of materials science and electrochemistry, particularly in electrode and electrolyte materials for energy storage and conversion applications. Dr. Babu’s current research focuses on development of super capacitors and Li-ion batteries for wider temperature applications and understanding the reaction mechanism in Li-S batteries.


 


Dr. Hemtej Gullapalli
hemtej@rice.edu

Dr. Gullapalli has a doctoral degree in Material Science and NanoEngineering from Rice University. He started his postdoctoral research in Nov 2014 and is currently working on materials for electrochemical energy storage systems. His research is focused on developing customized devices for applications involving harsh environmental conditions. Gullapalli has worked on synthesis of layered materials, developing 3D electrode architectures, composite electrolytes and cell packaging for rechargeable batteries and capacitors.


 


Dr. Ashok Kumar Meiyazhagan
ashok2983@gmail.com

Dr. Ashok Kumar Meiyazhagan joined Ajayan’s group in February 2015. He received his Ph.D degree in Chemistry from the Central Leather Research Institute (CLRI), University of Madras, Tamil Nadu, India. His doctoral work focused on the simple, efficient method for the development of carbon nanomaterials from bio-wastes for wide range of application in the fields related to energy storage, catalysts and organic reactions. His current area of research focuses on the synthesis of lithium metal-doped organic molecules for energy storage applications and synthesis of high performance 3D nanocomposite materials for multifunctional applications.


 


Dr. Chandra Sekhar Tiwary
cst311@gmail.com

Dr. Chandra Sekhar Tiwary completed his Bachelor of Technology in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering from National Institute of Technology Durgapur in year 2008. He completed his PhD from Materials Engineering, Indian Institute of Science Banaglore under supervision of Prof. K. Chattopadhyay and Prof. Dipankar Banerjee in 2013. He was a Management Trainee with MECON Limited from 2008 to 2009. He is currently working on development of 2D and 3D Hetrostructure materials.


 


Dr. Weipeng Wang
weipeng.wang@rice.edu

Dr. Weipeng Wang received his Ph. D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Tsinghua University under the guidance of Prof. Zhengjun Zhang. His Ph.D. research is mainly focused on extreme conditions (high energy particle, high magnetic field) based low-dimensional material processing, property modification and their applications in energy and environmental science. His current research is focused on supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) based material synthesis, modification and their applications in energy industry.


 

Doctoral Students


Amey Apte
aaa18@rice.edu

Amey Apte completed his dual degree BS/MS in physics from the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER), Pune, in 2014. His MS thesis, under the guidance of Prof. Sulabha Kulkarni, involved the study of self-assembled vertically aligned gold nanorods on silicon substrates, and their application for the ultrasensitive detection of various chemicals using Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy (SERS). Thereafter, he continued research on gold nanostructures and certain rare earth orthoferrites with Prof. Kulkarni for another year before joining the Applied Physics PhD Program at Rice University in August, 2015. Beginning January, 2016, his research in the Ajayan group will focus on the growth and characterisation of functional 2D materials as well as layered heterostructures and the investigation of their exotic properties using techniques like ultrafast X-ray pump probe spectroscopy.


 


Elisabeth Bianco
efb1@rice.edu

Elisabeth graduated from The Ohio State University in 2013 with a B.S. in Chemistry. At Ohio State, her research focused on the synthesis and characterization of germanium-graphane analogues. She is joining the 2D materials team in Ajayan’s group, working towards a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Her research interests include designing novel 2D materials with unique properties for a broad range of applications such as optoelectronics and energy conversion.


 


Samuel Castro Pardo
samuel.castro@rice.edu

Samuel Castro Pardo received his B.S. in Nanotechnology engineering and chemistry from Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM) in 2015. His previous research was focused on the development and characterization of novel amorphous pharmaceutical formulations as well as in the evaluation of the electrochemical performance of the active materials of a lead-acid battery. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in the Fall 2017 semester as a Ph.D. student in the chemistry department. He is interested in the synthesis and characterization of new materials for energy storage devices.


 


Zehua (Arthur) Jin
zj2@rice.edu

Arthur Jin graduated from Rice University with B.S. in Electrical Engineering (Distinction in Research and Creative Work) and B.A. in Physics in 2014. He joined Ajayan’s Group in 2014 and is now working on optical and electrical applications based on low dimensional materials.


 

Jarin Joyner received his Bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Oberlin College and his Master’s degree in organic chemistry from Georgia State University. His previous research studies include the investigation of the mechanisms in the oxidation of reducing sugars using spectrophotometric assays and chemical glycosylation of small molecules with simple, 6-carbon sugars. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in the Fall 2014 semester as a Ph.D. student in the chemistry department. His research pursuits are concentrated in energy storage, investigating polymer composites to be utilized as separators in lithium ion battery systems at high temperatures.


 


Keiko Kato
keiko.kato@rice.edu

Keiko Kato received a B.S. in materials science & engineering from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2014. Before she joined Dr. Ajayan’s lab as a Ph.D. student in the summer of 2015, she worked at Xerion Advanced Battery Corporation for one and half years where she developed high power lithium ion batteries based on nanostructured electrode architecture. In Dr. Ajayan’s lab, she is interested in investigating organic batteries, high temperature batteries, and other energy storage methods as well as harvesting materials.


 


Suppanat Kosolwattana
suppanat.kosolwattana@rice.edu

Suppanat Kosolwattana (Nat) is a Ph.D. Student in the Materials Science and Nanoengineering department at Rice University. He has received a full scholarship from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Thailand to study in the United States since his undergraduate study. He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Virginia in chemistry and physics. Then, he received his masters degree in materials science and engineering from Pennsylvania State University. In summer 2014, he joined in Prof. Ajayan’s research group for pursuing his Ph.D. His research is focused on energy storage devices such as batteries and supercapacitors.


 

Jiawei received her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Hangzhou Dianzi University, Zhejiang China (2014), and her professional master’s degree in Materials Science and NanoEngineering from Rice University (2017). She became a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Ajayan’s group in fall of 2017, with research focused on the fabrication of field-effect transistors (FETs). She is currently investigating the development of bio-sensors and bio-mimetic sensors from 2D materials.


 


Peter Owuor
pso2@rice.edu

Peter Owuor joined Ajayan’s group in 2014. His research interests include thermo-mechanical properties of polymer nanocomposites, conductive polymers, PEM, Organic-inorganic composite materials, materials for energy storage.


 


Sruthi Radhakrishnan
sr48@rice.edu

Sruthi Radhakrishnan received her Bachelor’s degree in Instrumentation Engineering from Mahatma Gandhi University in India. She was an intern in the group during summer 2012 and joined Ajayan’s group in Fall 2014, as a PhD student. She is currently working on the multi-modal application of Fluorinated Graphene oxide for cancer imaging as well as therapy.


 


Marco Tulio Fonseca Rodrigues
mf24@rice.edu

Marco-Tulio F. Rodrigues received his B.S. in Chemistry and his M.Sc. in Physical Chemistry from Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Brazil). He has some experience with polymer nanocomposites, spectroscopy of carbon materials, colloidal self-assembly, and energy storage devices. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Summer 2013 as a Ph.D. student.


 


Devashish Salpekar
ds53@rice.edu

Devashish Salpekar joined Rice University in Fall of 2015 as a professional masters student and joined Dr. Ajayan’s group as a PhD candidate in May of 2017. Devashish received his Bachelors of Technology degree in Materials Science and Metallurgical Engineering from Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, India, in May 2015. He is currently working on synthesis of high temperature electrode materials for Lithium-ion batteries.


 


Lucas Sassi
lms17@rice.edu

Lucas joined prof Ajayan`s group in Fall of 2017. He received his B.S. in Nanotechology and his M.S. in Nanotechnology Engineering, both from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) in Brazil. Lucas has experience with molecular dynamics, AFM nanomanipulation, Raman spectroscopy of graphene and carbon nanotubes and anti-fouling coatings. Before joining the group, Lucas also worked as a lecturer of the Nanotechnology undergraduate program at UFRJ and as a researcher in the Brazilian metrology institute (INMETRO). His current research interests include development of new 2D materials and Van der Waals heterostructures and their applications.


 


Sandhya Susarla
ss119@rice.edu

Sandhya Susarla received her undergraduate degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology (Banaras Hindu University; IIT BHU) in May 2015. She joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Fall 2015. Her final year project at IIT BHU was based on peroviskite based solar cells. Her current research interests include development of new 2-D materials, both by top down and bottom up approaches, and investigating their properties for various optoelectronic applications.


 


Mai Kim (Kimmai)
Tran

kimmai.tran@rice.edu

Hailing from the University of Florida (Go Gators!) with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering as well as a minor in Sustainability and the Built Environment, Kimmai joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Spring 2017 as an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, excited to change the world and beyond. Her current research interests mainly lie in materials for environmental sustainability; to “design with nature in mind.” She is currently working on metallic organic frameworks for CO2 sequestration with a parallel project on deep eutectic solvents with the eventual goal of making recyclable batteries. Outside of the lab, you can probably catch her eating French fries or chocolate, sipping a coffee or bubble tea outside of Brochstein Pavillion, or petting dogs nearby. Follow her adventures in her weekly Blogumentary!


 


Hsinhan (Dave) Tsai
ht14@rice.edu

Hsinhan Tsai (Dave) received his BS dgree in chemistry (2006) from Fu Jen Catholic University (Taiwan) and MS degree of Polymer Science (2010) in National Taipei University of Technology (Taiwan). Before join Rice, he was worked with conducting polymers and perovksite materials for optoelectronics and sensing applications at Los Alamos National Lab, USA. He joined with Ajayan’s group in January, 2015 as PhD student at Dept. Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice University. His current research focused on novel perovkskite materials for solar and energy application.


 


Zixing (Cecile) Wang
zixing.wang@rice.edu

Zixing (Cecile) Wang received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015. Her concentration was electronic materials. She joined the Chemistry department at Rice University in the summer of 2015. During her undergraduate program, she worked on ion exchange fiber composites for water treatment. Afterwards she studied group V nitrides’ micro-structure and its effect on electronic, superconducting and mechanical properties. Her current interest is growing novel 2D materials and studying their properties.


 


Xiang Zhang
xiang.zhang@rice.edu

Xiang Zhang received his B.S. degree in Applied Physics from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) in 2013. He joined Ajayan’s group in Spring 2014 as a Ph.D. student in the Applied Physics Program. He has previous research experience in CVD growth of graphene on insulating substrates. His current research interests include fabrication of 2D materials and their applications.


 


Zhou Zhou
zz9@rice.edu

Zhou Zhou is a graduate student in Ajayan’s group at Rice University. She received her B.S. in Physics from University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and her Professional Master’s in Nanoscale Physics from Rice University. Her current research interests are the fabrication and engineering of low-dimensional materials and their applications in the oil and gas field.


 

Professional Masters Degree Students

 


Minfei Fei
mf45@rice.edu

Minfei Fei received his B.E. degree in New Energy Science and Engineering from Nanjing University (NJU) in 2017. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in the fall of 2017 as a professional masters student. He was a research intern at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) in the summer of 2016. He has previous research experience in materials synthesis and Pt-Ni catalysis. His current research interests include materials synthesis and decoration.


 


Xinchao Shi
xs12@rice.edu

Xinchao Shi received his B.S. degree in Material Science from the University of Science and Technology in Beijing (USTB) in 2016. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group as a professional masters degree student in Fall 2017. He has previous research experience in lead-free piezoelectric ceramic and protective coatings. His current research interests include fabrication of 2D material and their applications.


 


Xinting Shuai
xs10@rice.edu

Xinting Shuai joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in fall of 2017. He received his B.S. degree in Material Science and Engineering from the Jiangsu University of Science and Technology of China in 2015. He joined the Materials Science and NanoEngineering (MSNE) department at Rice University in the summer of 2016 as a professional masters student. He has previous research experience in the area of Al-Si alloys and the conductivity of carbon nanotubes. Currently, his interests focus on graphene doping and 2D material growth. His motto is: Build better materials and change the world.


 


Jia Wen (Wendy) Yu
jwy2@rice.edu

Wendy Yu received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2012. Her previous research experience includes materials for energy storage, biofuel and heat transfer. In addition, she has worked at Air Liquide in various engineering and business roles. She joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Spring 2017 as a professional master student. She is currently working on Mxene materials for energy storage.


 

Undergraduate Students

 

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Irene Hwang
hh18@rice.edu

Irene Hwang is an undergraduate student in the class of 2018 at Sid Richardson College. She plans to graduate with a B.S. in Materials Science and Nanoengineering. Irene joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Spring 2016 and currently works with nanocomposites, mechanical properties, and 3-D nanostructures.


 

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Sylvia Jung
sj51@rice.edu

Sylvia Jung is an undergraduate student in the class of 2021 at Hanszen College. She plans to graduate with a B.S. in Materials Science and NanoEngineering and pursue graduate studies in Material Science. Sylvia joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in Fall 2017 and will be exploring different research areas, starting from 3D nanostructure materials.


Visiting Students

 


Gabriel Coulter
coulterg@tcd.ie

Gabriel is a visiting undergraduate research student from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. Pursuing a B.A. (Hons) degree in Nanoscience, the Physics and Chemistry of Advanced Materials, he is conducting his final-year research project with the Ajayan group. His research area is investigating the exfoliation of layered perovskite oxide structures with potential applications for hydrogen evolution catalysis.


 


Gerry Hughes
hughesg4@tcd.ie

Gerry is a visiting undergraduate student in the class of 2018 from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He is joining Dr. Ajayan’s group for the 2017 Fall Semester as a part of his undergraduate studies and will be working with supercapacitor energy storage. He intends to graduate with a B.A. (Hons) in Nanoscience and pursue further studies at a post-graduate level


 

Mengmeng Fan is a Ph.D. candidate (supervisor, Prof. Dongping Sun) in the Chemicobiology and Functional Materials Institute, School of Chemical Engineering, Nanjing University of Science and Technology, Nanjing, China. He started his master-doctor continuous study in 2012. He joined Dr. Ajayan’s group as a Visiting Scholar in February 2017. His previous research was focused on the preparation and the biological, electrocatalytic and energy storage applications of N-doped graphene. His current research is focused on the exfoliation and catalytic application of 2D materials.


 


Chenglu Liang
chenglu.liang@rice.edu

Chenglu Liang is a Ph.D. candidate in Department of Polymer Science and Engineering of Sichuan University, Sichuan, China. She received her B.E. in Material Processing Engineering from Sichuan University and then started her master-doctor continuous study in the Department of Polymer Science and Engineering of Sichuan University. She joined Dr. Ajayan’s group as a Visiting Scholar in September 2016. Her research is focused on the preparation of two-dimensional materials and their applications for energy conversion and storage.


Visiting Scholars

 


Dr. Jiewu Cui
jiewu.cui@rice.edu

Dr. Jiewu Cui joined Prof. Ajayan’s group as a visiting scholar in September 2017. He received his Ph.D. in Materials Science from Hefei University of Technology under the supervision of Prof. Yucheng Wu. He is currently an associate professor at Hefei University of Technology. His research interests are mainly focused on the synthesis of 2D and 3D nanomaterials and their application in electrochemical energy storage.


 


Dr. Pritam Deb
pdeb@tezu.ernet.in

Dr. Pritam Deb joined Prof. Ajayan’s group as APS-IUSSTF Visiting Professor in October 2017. He received his Ph.D. degree in Nanoscience from Jadavpur University. Now he is a Professor of Physics at Tezpur University (Central University), India. His current research interests are mainly focused on magnetism in low dimension, molecular imaging, 2D and 3D heterostructures.


 


Dr. Ramazan Ozturk
ro6@rice.edu

Dr. Ramazan Ozturk joined Prof. Ajayan’s research group in August 2016. He received his PhD from Istanbul Technical University, Istanbul Turkey in 2004. He worked as an associate professor at Fatih University, Department of Genetics and Bioengineering in Turkey. Dr. Ozturk’s research background is mostly related to design and modification of plasmonic nanoparticles for potential applications in nanomedicine and solar cell systems. His current research at Rice is focused on plasmonic properties of 2D materials and 2D alloy metal carbides.


 


Seyed Mohammad Sajadi
msajadi@rice.edu

Seyed Mohammad Sajadi received his Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Tehran and his Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Houston in December 2016. His previous research involved modelling and experimental studies to elucidate the fundamentals of micro-scale heat transfer and their implementation in nanotechnology. His MS thesis involved development of Micro-Nano Structures for Tuned Heat Transfer. Mohammad joined Dr. Ajayan’s group in April 2017 and his current research focused on development of metamaterial.


 


Dr. Tiva Sharifi
tiva.sharifi@umu.se

Dr. Tiva Sharifi received her PhD in material science from Physics Department, Umeå University, Sweden. Her research was based on the synthesis and understanding of nitrogen-doped carbon nanostructures and developing carbon-based electrocatalyst material for energy conversion reactions such as water electrolysis. She has joined Ajayan’s research group as visiting scholar in June 2016 under the support of Swedish research council.


 


Dr. Thakur Prasad Yadav
tp22@rice.edu
yadavtp@gmail.com

Dr. Thakur Prasad Yadav joined Prof. Ajayan’s research group in November 2016 under Raman Research Fellowship. He received his PhD from Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India. He was a BOYSCAST Postdoctoral Research Fellow at The University of Liverpool, UK, from 2011 – 2012. Dr. Yadav’s research background is mostly related to design and modification of complex metallic alloys (quasicrystals, nanomaterials, amorphous/glass) for potential applications in hydrogen production and storage. His current research at Rice is focused on 2D materials for energy applications and catalysts.


 


Dr. Xiaozhan Yang
xiaozhan.yang@rice.edu

Dr. Xiaozhan Yang joined Prof. Ajayan’s group as a visiting scholar in September 2017. She received her Ph.D. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Sichuan University. From 2008 to 2010, she spent 2 years as a post-doctoral researcher in Basic Medicine at the Third Military Medical University, Chongqing, China. Now she is an associate professor at Chongqing University of Technology. Her research interests are mainly focused on nano-functional materials, sensitive materials, structure and properties of materials.


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