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.

Honors & Awards

2013 Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award – U.S. Office of Naval Research
2013 Principal Investigator – U.S. Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
2018 Award for Excellence in Research, Scholarship, or Creative Activity at the Associate Professor Level – University of Houston
2018 Scialog Collaborative Innovation Award – Research Corporation for Science Advancement
2017 Scialog Fellow on Advanced Energy Storage – Research Corporation
2016 Junior Faculty Research Excellence Award – University of Houston, Cullen College of Engineering
2016 Teaching Excellence Award – University of Houston, Cullen College of Engineering
2012 TcSUH Welch Foundation Professorship Award – Welch Foundation
2013 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award – Oak Ridge Associated Universities
2008 Excellence in Graduate Polymer Science Research – American Chemical Society
2007 Chinese Government Award for Outstanding Students Abroad – China Scholarship Council
2007 ICI Student Award Finalist in Applied Polymer Science – American Chemical Society
2007 Dissertation Year Fellowship – UCLA
2000 Chun-Tsung Scholar – Chun-Tsung Endowment
2000 Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award – Shanghai Educational Council

Professional Activities & Services

2019 Symposium Organizer – Organic Materials in Electrochemical Energy Storage, Spring Meeting of the Materials Research Society, Phoenix, AZ (scheduled)
2018 Center Proposal Reviewer – DOE BES
2018 Organizing Committee – Nature Conference on Materials Electrochemistry: Fundamentals and Applications, Shenzhen, China
2014-present Meeting Chair – Organic Battery Days, Tianjin, China
2017-present International Board Member – Organic Battery Days
2016-present Faculty Advisor – Electrochemical Society University of Houston Chapter
2015-present Treasure – IEEE Nanotechnology Council Houston Chapter
2015 Proposal Reviewer – European Research Council
2015 Proposal Reviewer – NASA EPSCoR
2014 Proposal Reviewer – ACS Petroleum Research Fund
2016 NSF Review Panel – Energy for Sustainability Program
2016 NSF Review Panel – Energy for Sustainability Program
2013 NSF Review Panel – Electronics, Photonics and Magnetic Devices Program
2013 NSF Ad-hoc Review – Ceramics Program
2017 Symposium Organizer – Frontiers in Electrochemical Energy Storage, European Materials Research Society, Strasbourg, France.
2016 Symposium Organizer – Electrochemistry and Batteries for Safe and Low-cost Energy Storage, 229th ECS meeting, San Diego, CA
2016 Symposium Organizer – Materials and Technologies for Stationary Electrochemical Energy Storage, International Materials Research Congress, Cancun, Mexico
2015 Symposium Lead Organizer – Materials and Architectures for Safe and Low-cost Electrochemical Energy Storage Technologies, Fall Meeting of the Materials Research Society, Boston, MA
2015 Symposium Organizer – Nanostructured Materials for Rechargeable Batteries and for Supercapacitors III, The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society Meeting, Orlando, FL
2014 Symposium Organizer – Batteries and Fuel Cell Technologies: Challenges and Solutions, 248th ACS Meeting, San Francisco, CA

Student Awards

2018 Hui Dong – Best Poster Award in Nature Conference of Electrochemistry
2017 Karun Kumar Rao – NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship
2017 Stephanie Roohi – DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship
2016 Saman Gheytani – First Prize in TcSUH 53rd Student Symposium
2016 Yifei Li – Best Dissertation Award of Materials Science and Engineering
2016 Fang Hao – Third Prize in TcSUH 52nd Student Symposium
2016 Raymond McCoy – Best Poster Award in REEMS REU Program
2016 Hui Dong – TcSUH Travel Award
2016 Hui Dong – UH Future Faculty Program
2016 Hui Dong – Third Prize in TcSUH 51st Student Symposium
2015 Yanliang Liang – Nano Research Poster Award
2014 Yifei Li – ECE Urvish Medh Award of the Best Overall Presentation
2014 Yifei Li – Third Prize in TcSUH 47th Student Symposium