Mishra receives Powe Junior Faculty Award

Rohan Mishra, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, has received a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU).

Rohan Mishra

Mishra was one of 36 recipients from among 125 applicants of the one-year award, which provides seed money to junior faculty at ORAU-associated institutions. The award is designed to enrich the research and professional growth of young faculty and result in new funding opportunities.

He is the fifth School of Engineering & Applied Science faculty member in 10 years to receive the award. Four associate professors in the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering have previously received the award: Young-Shin Jun in 2008; Yinjie Tang in 2010; John Fortner in 2012; and Fuzhong Zhang in 2013.

With the award, Mishra, a materials scientist, plans to combine theoretical and experimental research to design stable, nontoxic, inorganic materials containing bismuth in a double-perovskite framework. The fastest-advancing absorber materials for solar cells are composed of organic and inorganic materials that are cheap to produce and easy to manufacture. However, these perovskites contain highly toxic lead and have poor environmental and thermodynamic stability and are made from toxic lead, so they are not good candidates for widespread commercial solar cells.

Using a combination of machine learning, data mining and electronic-structure calculations, Mishra will screen bismuth-based double perovskites to predict the best candidates for solar cell applications. Those compounds will then be synthesized and fabricated into solar cells in collaboration with Parag Banerjee, assistant professor of mechanical engineering & materials science, and Pratim Biswas, the Lucy & Stanley Lopata Professor, assistant vice chancellor for international programs and chair of the Department of Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering. The team will also work with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study the atomic and electronic structure of the synthesized perovskites through electron microsopy to identify defects that can reduce solar cells’ efficiency and devise strategies to mitigate them.

Mishra’s research focuses on creating materials from the atomic scale with their properties tailored for targeted applications, such as solar cells and as catalysts for electrochemical reactions. His Materials, Modeling and Microscopy lab uses a synergistic combination of electronic structure calculations and aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) to develop quantitative structure property correlations and uses them to rationally design materials.

Mishra joined Washington University in St. Louis in 2015. Previously, he was a guest scientist and a postdoctoral scholar through Vanderbilt University at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. He also was a fellow of the Center for Emergent Materials at The Ohio State University.

Mishra earned a doctorate in materials science and engineering from The Ohio State University in 2012 and a bachelor's degree in technology from the National Institute of Technology Karnataka in Surathkal, India in 2008.

Oak Ridge Associated Universities is a university consortium that combines the scientific strength of 121 major research institutions to advance science and education by partnering with national laboratories, government agencies and private industry.

The School of Engineering & Applied Science at Washington University in St. Louis focuses intellectual efforts through a new convergence paradigm and builds on strengths, particularly as applied to medicine and health, energy and environment, entrepreneurship and security. With 88 tenured/tenure-track and 28 additional full-time faculty, 1,200 undergraduate students, 1,200 graduate students and 20,000 alumni, we are working to leverage our partnerships with academic and industry partners — across disciplines and across the world — to contribute to solving the greatest global challenges of the 21st century.