Research Facilities

The Center for Energy and Sustainability research faculty and students have access to state-of-the-art facilities, laboratories and research equipment. Recently, center faculty was awarded $1.7 million through NSF ARI2 to renovate several research labs and more than $2 million through NSF MRI grants for the acquisition of new equipment, including a Scanning Electron Microscope, ICP-MS and an high-payload centrifuge. Lab renovations and equipment acquisition will support the institutionalization of the Center.

  • Bio-Nano Materials and Interfaces Lab

    Dr. Hu’s research activities primarily concentrate in the areas of: i) Bio-/Nano-Materials and Mechanics; ii) Multifunctional and Energy Materials and Devices, and; iii) Nanotechnology Research, with emphasis on bio-inspired design, structure-function relationships, surface/interfacial interactions, transport phenomena and structural hierarchy.  Seeking organisms and biological systems as ‘elegant’ models to solve intricate engineering problems in an energy-efficient, eco-friendly and sustainable manner.  He is focused on addressing the emergent phenomena and properties across multiple length and temporal scales.  This new paradigm of bio-inspired research is aimed at the elucidation of some of the basic principles and mechanisms in nature, including animals, insects, and plants, in order to create next-generation smart materials and complex superstructures that are responsive to external stimuli, e.g., switchable dry/wet adhesives; active self-cleaning, anti-fouling, anti-bacterial surfaces; hierarchical/hybrid fibrils with self-healing and wear-prevention capabilities, water harvesting coatings and thin films.  These functional materials and structures are highly desirable in renewable energy, biomedical, environmental and defense applications.

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Travis Shihao Hu
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Combustion Laboratory

    Led by Dr. Jeff Santner the lab study combustion chemistry and pollutant formation. There are currently three major projects. 1: Computational design of experimental conditions to provide optimally useful measurements. 2: Modern re-analysis of published measurements to improve understanding of combustion-relevant reaction rates. 3: Design, construction, and testing of a low-NOx cooking burner.

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Jeff Santner
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Geonvironmental and Water Resources Engineering Lab

    Geoenvironmental and Water Resources Engineering Lab contains state-of-the-art facilities and instrumentation for investigating hydrogeological and transport processes in porous media, and reactive transport phenomena. In particular, research focuses on the use of steady-state centrifugation to investigate such processes in unsaturated low-conductivity soils in the vadose zone. The lab has one of the few Unsaturated flow apparatus (UFA) available in the World and a newly acquired NSF MRI-funded high-payload centrifuge (200lb/arm and 200g).

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Gustavo Borel Menezes
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Gomez Laboratory

    The Gomez group is engaged in developing fundamental and applied research in the area of microfluidics. Specifically, we are focused on developing new microfluidic devices (MDs) for use in point-of-care (POC) diagnostics and chemical and biochemical separations. Some of our current work involves the development of paper microfluidic and bead-based assays, enzyme microreactors, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) on chips, microfluidic fuel cells (methanol, formic acid, and hydrogen), novel materials for microfluidics, and chromatography on chips. We also employ response surface methodology (RSM) and artificial neural networks (ANN) to experimentally optimize conditions in microfluidics. The members of the Gomez group include undergraduate and graduate students, high school students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting scientists from the fields of chemistry, biochemistry, mechanical engineering, physics, biology, and mathematics.

    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Hydrogen Station

    Powered by 100% renewable resources, the station comprises a Hydrogenics electrolyzer, first and second stage compressors capable of fast-filling to 5,000 (350bar) or 10,000 psi (700bar), 60 kg of hydrogen storage, water purification, and various cooling and control systems. Generating up to 60 kg of hydrogen per day to fuel 15-20 vehicles, it is the largest H2 fueling facility in the world operated by an academic institution. The station will provide student training, a unique feature not found anywhere else. The station is located next to the Engineering and Technology building. The station will help to develop educational programs for sustainable engineering and advanced transportation as well as to facilitate research in performance optimization and renewable power smart grid.

    Lead Researcher:Dr. David Blekhman
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Photochemistry Research Laboratory

    Our research is centered around the chemistry of singlet oxygen (1O2), the lowest excited state of the dioxygen molecule. We have been exploring reactions of singlet oxygen with heteroatoms such as phosphorus and sulfur. We are especially interested in mechanistic pathways of such oxidation reactions. Kinetic measurements, trapping experiments and low-temperature observation of reactive intermediates are performed to understand what type of peroxidic intermediates are formed. It is important to understand the nature of such reactive intermediates because they are often better oxidants than dioxygen (in its triplet or singlet state) itself.


    Lead Researcher:Dr. Matthias Selke
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Power, Energy and Transportation Lab

    We are standing in the doorway of the next technical revolution in transportation and renewable energy sectors. Striving for energy independence, electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles are making a quantum leap and are strongly positioning themselves in manufacturing and service over the next 20-30 years.

    Wind and solar technologies have reached the development and affordability levels to compete with coal burning. These are the jobs of today and tomorrow, where I see my students taking technology leadership positions.

    California, and especially Southern California, is like none other state in the union. Here is the prime market for new mobile and renewable technologies. The Power, Energy and Transportation program enjoys the support of dozens world wide known Research & Development and manufacturing companies.

    Lead Researcher:Dr. David Blekhman
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Thermal and Fluid Systems Laboratory

    The Thermo-fluids Laboratory aims at developing fundamental and applied research broadly centered on the areas of fluid/thermal sciences, dynamical systems, optimization, soft computing, electronic cooling, and thermal control to solve pressing issues related to energy efficiency and sustainable energy systems. The work perfomed in the lab combines analytical, numerical and experimental approaches to carry out interdisciplinary research to develop technologies that enable designing more efficient energy-conversion devices thus offering possible solutions to reduce environmental impact from current usage and sources of energy. The lab space is divided into two sub-facilities. (1) A computer-cluster-based fully furnished student office for six students, which includes high-end HP Z620 graphical workstations with Intel Xeon 6-core processors, linked to a Beowulf Linux-based computer system with 14 quad-core Xeon processors, with printing and poster-developing capabilities. Matlab, COMSOL Multiphysics ans Tecplot software, along with in-house F77-based codes and graphical and CAD software, are used for general and comprehensive CFD calculations. (2) An experimental space houses a number of equipment, including a natural convection loop, a flow visualization with a particle image velocimetry system, a heat exchanger experimental facility and a fully instrumented sub-scale 1.1 m x 0.92 m x 1.2 m building test facility, all interfaced with personal computers for experimental analysis and control. The overarching goal is to offer potential solutions to reduce environmental impact and minimize energy consumption toward developing sustainable urban settings. The list of the existing equipment is included in the equipment section.

    Current research interests include (i) Simulation and control of thermal systems; (ii) Soft computing techniques; (iii) System and process optimization; (iv) Heat and fluid flow data analysis; (v) Nonlinear dynamical systems, (vi) Analytical and numberical methods for PDEs; (vii) Micro-scale fluid flow and heat transfer; (iix) Electronic cooling; geophysical flows; (ix) Biologitcal and biologically-inspired systems. 

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Arturo Pacheco-Vega
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Wang's Lab

    The research performed at Dr. Yixian Wang's lab regards imaging and sensing tools for single entity analysis. Ongoing projects are (i) Study the molecular interactions between α-synuclein (αS) aggregates and neuron membranes for understanding the pathological mechanism in Parkinson’s disease (PD), (ii) Structural and morphological effects of nanoparticles (NPs) on their electrocatalytic properties, (iii) Fabrication and modification of carbon nanoelectrodes for intracellular detection of electrochemical active species and (iv) Real-time monitoring of particulate matter (PM2.5) in air sample via a novel hybrid imaging system. 

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Yixian Wang
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page

  • Zhou Laboratory

    Currently, research projects performed in Dr. Zhou's lab is comprised of the following areas: (i) Aggregation of Amyloidogenic Proteins; (ii) Electron and Metal Transfer Involving Metallothioneins; (iii) Biological Imaging at the Solution/Solid Interface; (iv) Coupled Analytical Techniques and (v)Nanomaterials and Nanodevices for Enhanced Biosensing

    Lead Researcher:Dr. Feimeng Zhou
    Lab Resources:Lab Resources Page