Alexander G. Agrios, PhD, PE
Associate Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering
- B.S.E. (Civil & Environmental Engineering; Chemistry; Duke University, Durham, NC, USA) 1996
- M.S. (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., USA) 1998
- Ph.D. (Civil & Environmental Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, Ill., USA) 2003
- École Centrale de Lyon, France, Photocatalyse et environnement, with Prof. Pierre Pichat, 2004
- École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland (EPFL), Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces, with Prof. Michael Grätzel 2004-2005
- KTH (Royal Institute of Technology), Stockholm, and Uppsala University, Sweden, Physical Chemistry, with Prof. Anders Hagfeldt, 2005-2009
A passion for mitigating mankind’s impact on the natural environment and a fascination with chemistry led me to combine Environmental Engineering with Chemistry from the beginning of my studies. I earned a BSE from Duke University in 1996 with majors in both Civil & Environmental Engineering and Chemistry. My graduate work, under Prof. Kimberly A. Gray at Northwestern University, concerned interactions between visible light, chlorophenols, and TiO2 nanoparticles in the context of environmental photocatalysis. I conducted further work in photocatalysis during a short-term postdoctoral position with Prof. Pierre Pichat at École Centrale de Lyon, France.
At some point during my graduate studies I was bitten by the “energy bug”: I became convinced that energy production lay at the root of a large proportion of the pollution that we environmental engineers endeavor to mitigate, and that developing clean energy technologies could have far greater environmental impact than improved treatment methods. When I learned that a type of solar cell existed based on excitation by visible light of molecules adsorbed to TiO2 nanoparticles, I was immediately intrigued. Upon completion of my dissertation, I began seeking a way in to research on the dye-sensitized solar cell (DSC).
My ticket was an NSF International Research Fellowship, awarded to me in 2004, providing two years of postdoctoral funding abroad. I spent the first year in the laboratory of Prof. Michael Grätzel at EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland and the second year with Prof. Anders Hagfeldt at KTH in Stockholm, Sweden. Funds in the Hagfeldt group allowed me to continue my work there, during which time the group moved 90 km north to Uppsala University. In August 2009, I joined UCONN as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering and the Center for Clean Energy Engineering.
Research in my group is focused in novel materials and nanostructures for improved performance of dye-sensitized solar cells. I am especially interested in the dye regeneration overpotential problem; solving it would increase DSC solar power conversion efficiencies by half. Other research interests of mine include environmental impacts of nanoparticles, solar fuels production, and materials for energy storage.