- Research Program Mentor
PhD candidate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Renewable energy (solar), heat transfer, computational materials science
BioI'm Shomik Verma, a graduate student at MIT in Mechanical Engineering. I'm interested in the future of energy, especially photovoltaics. I'm continually amazed by the elegance of PV and its potential to transform the world's energy landscape. I'm currently interested in how multi-scale modeling techniques can be used to optimize energy conversion technologies - from atomistic simulations at the nanoscale to improve PV cell performance to large-scale heat transfer modeling at the meter-scale for efficient system design. Outside of research, I play tabla (an Indian classical percussion instrument), I like to jam with fellow musicians and mix my own music. I also play basketball and badminton. In my free time I devour anything sci-fi.
Machine learning to optimize optical performance of solar cells
With the rise of large-scale materials databases such as the Materials Project and ICSD, a wealth of information is already available for many types of materials. However, these databases are often missing essential information about optical properties (such as absorption) as these calculations are expensive. One strategy is to use machine learning as a tool to speed up expensive calculations. This will allow high-throughput screening of large databases and identification of promising candidate materials for photovoltaic applications.
Novel applications of thermophotovoltaics
While conventional photovoltaic cells use light from the sun to generate electricity, another branch of photovoltaics, called thermophotovoltaics or TPV, use light from a heat source instead. This is beneficial as any unused light by the TPV cell can be reflected back to the heat source and reabsorbed, instead of lost. Recently, a surge of interest in TPV has pushed their efficiency above 40%, and models show efficiencies as high as 60% are feasible in the next few years. With these high efficiencies come boundless potential applications in power plant design, waste heat recovery, concentrated solar power, etc. This project would involve focusing on one such application and designing an efficient system that incorporates TPV cells.