Leite, Mo Join MSE Faculty

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New MSE professors Marina Leite and Yifei Mo.

The Clark School's Department of Materials Science and Engineering (MSE) is pleased to welcome its two newest faculty members, Marina Leite and Yifei Mo.

Leite, who received her Ph.D. from the Physics Institute at the Universidade Estadual de Campinas, Brazil in 2007, will hold a joint appointment with the Institute for Research in Electronics and Applied Physics (IREAP).

At Maryland, her group will focus on sustainable energy solutions, with an emphasis on high efficiency photovoltaic solar cells and long lasting, lightweight rechargeable batteries. The research will include fundamental studies of solid state matter, materials development, device design, and materials performance enhancement through the modification optoelectronic characteristics at the nanoscale.

Leite is excited about her work’s potential. "I adore research!" she says, adding that her studies of energy harvesting and storage allow her to be involved in everything from discovery to application. "We need to find ways of substituting our current need for fossil fuels while keeping our [quality of] life...and preserving the environment for future generations. At MSE and IREAP I found an exceptionally collaborative work environment, with a team of outstanding researchers striving to solve scientific problems relevant to our society. I am thrilled to join UMD's effort for sustainability!"

Leite's previous experience includes postdoctoral positions in the Applied Physics & Materials Science Department at Caltech and the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

She invites undergraduate and graduate students interested in joining her group to contact her at mleite@umd.edu.

Mo, who received his Ph.D. From the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2010, is a computational materials scientist. Using advanced modeling and simulation techniques, he designs new materials without physical trial-and-error, and identifies problems in materials that are difficult to study experimentally. His research has been appeared in high-impact journals including Nature and Nature Materials.

"Designing materials in the computer avoids the time-consuming and expensive experiments in the lab, and can significantly reduce the development cycle of new materials," he explains.

At the University of Maryland, Mo plans to apply his techniques to the development of new high-performance materials for batteries and energy applications, study their nanoscale mechanics, and identify how their interactions at interfaces and surfaces affect their properties. He hopes his work will overcome some of the challenges to the development and distribution of renewable energy technology, and believes the Clark School is an ideal place for him to pursue his goals.

"MSE at UMD is one of the finest programs in the world," he says. "It boasts state-of-the-art facilities and the leading experts in a variety of areas of materials science...[I] will be able to work with the best experimentalists. I look forward to the exciting synergy between the computational [and] experimental research on campus."

Prior to joining the MSE faculty, Mo was a postdoctoral research associate at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Mo is currently seeking graduate students from a variety of backgrounds to join his highly interdisciplinary research group. Students with backgrounds in MSE, physics, chemical physics, mechanical engineering, chemistry, and chemical engineering are encouraged to contact him at yfmo@umd.edu.

Published August 5, 2013