The goal of our research is to realize high-performance, durable, and cost-effective energy storage and conversion technologies through rational materials design. We use an integrated theoretical and experimental approach through collaborations to define scientific questions and establish fundamental understandings of key challenges in these technologies. We tackle such challenges through rational materials design, novel synthesis approach, and experimental validation. With the unique combination of research capability in organic and inorganic materials, our group has investigated a broad range of materials including two-dimensional materials, inorganic nanostructures, organic crystals, polymers, and organic/inorganic hybrid materials. Current projects include redox-active organic materials, aqueous batteries, solid-state batteries, multivalent ion batteries and others. I encourage you explore our website to lean more about our ongoing research.


The goal of Ph.D. training is to transform a student to become an independent and creative scholar. We provide training on following areas: basic research skills, critical thinking, problem solving; writing and communication skills; research ethics, leadership, proactive attitude, and teamwork. We have current 1 NASA Research Fellow in the group. 3 postdocs landed faculty position in China and Korea, 1 as postdoc at Harvard, and 1 in top battery company.



Yan Yao, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, University of Houston
Co-Founder, Polymax Energy
Tel: 713.743.4432

• Born and raised in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China.
• Obtained his BS in Physical Electronics and MS in Materials Science from Fudan University in 2000 and 2003, with Prof. Guorong Chen as advisor, where he worked on metal-organic charge-transfer complex for resistive memory devices.
• Received his PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from UCLA in 2008, where he worked with Prof. Yang Yang on polymer-fullerene heterojunction photovoltaics.
• Joined Polyera Corp. (now Flexterra) in Skokie, IL from 2008 to 2010 as a senior scientist, where he led the effort on polymers for photovoltaics development.
• Conducted Postdoc research in Stanford MSE from 2010-2012 with Prof. Yi Cui, where he worked on nanostructure design for light management and electrochemical energy storage.
• Started his career as an assistant professor at Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Houston in 2012, where he is leading a group focusing on materials and devices for energy conversion and storage. He holds joint appointments in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering Program, and TcSUH.


• 2018 Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award, Research Corporation for Science Advancement
• 2017 Keynote Speaker of First International Conference on Energy Storage Materials
• 2016 Junior Faculty Research Excellence Award, Cullen College of Engineering
• 2016 Teaching Excellence Award, Cullen College of Engineering, University of Houston
• 2013 Principal Investigator of ARPA-E RANGE Award
• 2013 US Navy Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award
• 2013 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award, Oak Ridge Ass. Univ.
• 2012 TcSUH Welch Foundation Professorship Award, Welch Foundation
• 2008 Excellence in Graduate Polymer Science Research, American Chemical Society
• 2007 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad
• 2007 ICI Student Award Finalist in Applied Polymer Science, American Chemical Society
• 2007 Dissertation Year Fellowship, UCLA
• 2001 General Electric Scholarship, Fudan University
• 2000 Chun-Tsung Scholar, Chun-Tsung Endowment
• 2000 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award, Shanghai Education Council


• Editorial Board, Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group (2014-2017)
• Editorial Board, Frontiers in Energy Storage (2014-present)
• Board Member of International Organic Battery Days
• Treasure, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Magnetic Society and Nanotechnology Council Houston Chapter (2015-present)
• Founding faculty advisor, ECS University of Houston chapter (2016-present)
• Member, Materials Research Society (MRS), Electrochemical Society (ECS), American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AICHE), American Chemical Society (ACS)
• Conference organizer of 2nd International organic battery days, Tianjin, China, June 2018.
• Conference organizer of Nature Conference on materials electrochemistry: fundamentals and applications, Shenzhen, China, 2018.
• Symposium Lead-Organizer of 2015 Fall MRS Meeting. Symposium: Materials and architectures for safe and low-cost electrochemical energy storage technologies.
• Symposium Co-Organizer of 2019 Spring MRS Meeting. Symposium: Organic Materials in Electrochemical Energy Storage.
• Symposium Co-organizer of 2017 European Materials Research Society (E-MRS) at Strasbourg, France. Symposium: Frontiers in Electrochemical Energy Storage.
• Symposium Co-organizer of 2016 International Materials Research Congress (IMRC) at Cancun, Mexico. Symposium B.4: Materials and technologies for stationary electrochemical energy storage.
• Symposium Co-organizer of 229th ECS meeting at San Diego, CA, 2016. Symposium: Electrochemistry and batteries for safe and low-cost energy storage.
• Symposium Co-organizer of 144th Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS) Annual Meeting at Orlando, FL, 2015. Symposium: Nanostructured materials for rechargeable batteries and for supercapacitors III.
• Symposium Co-organizer of 248th ACS Meeting at San Francisco, CA, 2014. Symposium: Batteries and fuel cell technologies: challenges and solutions.