Ian Lightcap joined the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy) in May 2012 as Senior Scientist and in February 2016 was promoted to Research and Facilities Program Director. In addition to conducting his own research and helping to grow the research in energy at Notre Dame, Ian is responsible for the development and management of ND Energy’s Materials Characterization Facility. The facility is designed to assist Notre Dame faculty and associated researchers in general materials characterization, photovoltaic and electrocatalyst characterization, and crystallographic characterization, while engaging all levels of students and teachers in sustainable energy education.
Under the direction of Prashant Kamat at the University of Notre Dame, Ian's Ph.D. work on graphene-nanoparticle composites has led to a number of significant contributions in the field of energy conversion. Selected works include graphene catalyst mats for semiconductor and metal nanoparticles, CdSe quantum dot-graphene composites utilized for 3-dimensional sensitizer loading in solar cells, and the development of semiconductor-graphene-metal (SGM) films as nanomolar-sensitive SERS sensors. In 2012, Ian received the Rohm and Haas Outstanding Graduate Student Award. He received his Bachelor's degrees in Chemistry and Science Education from Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN (2003).
A former high school chemistry teacher, Ian gained his first research experience as an RET participant during his time off in the summers. He has a broad range of research experience including surface analysis of semiconductors grown using molecular beam epitaxy, design of voltage multipliers, and chemical speciation of nuclear waste-contaminated soil from the Hanford Tank Superfund site.
Ian’s current responsibilities with ND Energy are as follows:
- Develop and manage the Materials Characterization Facility.
- Conduct solar fuels research.
- Identify new and enhanced research initiatives that complement existing faculty research.
- Initiate and write research proposals that support the growth and development of energy-related research at Notre Dame.
- Create collaborative research teams and lead them in competitive funding opportunities.