Mesoscale Transport and Energy Conversion

The Lenert Lab for Mesoscale Transport and Energy Conversion at the University of Michigan Department of Chemical Engineering was established in 2016 to study new approaches for control of energy transport, with the primary goal of enabling greater integration of renewables. Our research focuses on the development of novel, highly efficient thermophotovoltaics for grid-scale energy storage, passive radiative cooling materials for energy efficiency, next-generation solar thermal technologies, microfabricated devices for near-field sensing, and high-temperature stable, catalytically active materials. 

Our research has been supported by the US Department of Energy, DARPA, US National Science Foundation, General Motors, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, 3M Foundation, Antora Energy, UM MCubed program, Graham Sustainability Institute, UM Lurie Nanofabrication Facility, Rackham Graduate School, UM Center for Entrepreneurship, and the UM Center for Socially Engaged Design.

The group is led by Dr. Andrej Lenert, an assistant professor of ChE at UM. It includes postdoctoral fellows and doctoral, masters, and undergraduate students from UM ChE and other departments/institutions. For inquiries, please email

POSTDOC OPENING: Early Spring, 2021. We’re currently looking to hire a postdoc with experience in one or more of the following areas: high-temperature materials, prototyping/fabrication, thermal and optical characterization, techno-economic analysis. Please contact Dr. Lenert with your resume/CV and a brief description of your relevant experiences.


Research Group Photo Album



December 2020
Andrej speaks about recent advances in TPVs at the 17th MIT InnoTherm Colloquium. Watch here.

November 2020
Check out some of our presentations at AIChE this year:

September 2020
Near-Perfect Photon Utilization in an Air-Bridge Thermophotovoltaic Cell published in Nature Congrats to Tobias Burger! This work has been highlighted by Chemical & Engineering News and PV Magazine.

August 2020
Plasmon-Enhanced Greenhouse Selectivity for High-Temperature Solar Thermal Energy Conversion published in ACS Nano Congrats to Zach Berquist! 

Selectively Enhancing Solar Scattering for Direct Radiative Cooling through Control of Polymer Nanofiber Morphology published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces – Congrats to Hannah Kim! 

July 2020
Present Efficiencies and Future Opportunities in Thermophotovoltaics published in JouleCongrats to Tobias Burger! See our Project TPV page for more details.

Extending the Thermal Near Field Through Compensation in Hyperbolic Waveguides published in Physical Review Applied Congrats to Sean McSherry! 

June 2020
Zachary Berquist receives the Best Presentation Award at the Energy Sustainability Conference (ASME ES 2020)! 

Prof. Andrej Lenert receives the 3M Nontenured Faculty Award.

May 2020
Bosun Roy-Layinde passes the doctoral candidacy exam!

March 2020
Kevin Turaczy (ChE undergrad, aerogel project) receives an NSF GRFP!

A new book chapter in Nanoscale Energy Transport introduces the basics of thermophotovoltaic energy conversion and reviews recent advancements in materials and fabrication – Congrats to Tobias Burger!

January 2020
Lenert Lab alum Brandon Woo receives the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering Incentives Award

Thermally Induced Restructuring of Pd@CeO2 and Pd@SiO2 Nanoparticles as a Strategy for Enhancing Low-Temperature Catalytic Activity published in ACS CatalysisCongrats to Alex Hill! 

December 2019
Tobias Burger (4th year PhD) wins a Poster Award (3rd place) at the LNF symposium!

PhD candidate Zach Berquist receives the Dow Sustainability Fellowship! He is one of ten exceptional doctoral candidates from six University of Michigan (U-M) schools and colleges to be part of the Dow Sustainability 2020 Doctoral Fellows cohort.

Sean passes the Thesis Proposal Exam! 

October 2019
Design of thermophotovoltaics for tolerance of parasitic absorption published in Optics Express – Congrats to undergraduate researcher Vinod Raman! 

We are thrilled to welcome a new PhD student to the group this week: Bosun Roy!

September 2019
Alex Hill (3rd year PhD) wins a Poster Award (2nd place) at the Chemical Engineering graduate student symposium!

July 2019
Zach’s submission wins First Place at the LNF Picture Contest and the ArtsEngine Award.

May 2019
Alex and Zach pass their Thesis Proposal Exams (with flying colors)! 

April 2019
A guest editorial by Andrej Lenert (UM), Sheng Shen (CMU) and Yi Zheng (URI), published in JPE, introduces the special issue on Thermal Photonics in Energy. 

Zach Berquist (2nd year PhD candidate) receives an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, while Michael Veksler (UG) receives an honorary mention. Congrats to both!

March 2019
Effects of narrowband transport on near-field and far-field thermophotonic conversion
published in Journal of Photonics for EnergyCongrats to Sean McSherry!

OSUM wins the Elaine Harden Award from COE. Congrats to Hannah Kim, who is part of their leadership team! 

November 2018
Our project on robust and spectrally-selective aerogels has been selected by the Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Sean McSherry receives a Poster Award for his work on thermal transport in van der Waals metamaterials at the 2018 LNF Symposium!

October 2018
Vinod Raman is selected to attend the ‘Future Leaders in Chemical Engineering Symposium’ at @NCState!

July 2018
Thin-film architectures with high spectral selectivity for thermophotovoltaic cells published in ACS Photonics – Congrats to Tobias Burger!

Radiative Thermal Runaway Due to Negative-Differential Thermal Emission Across a Solid-Solid Phase Transition published in Physical Review Applied. The paper was selected as an Editor’s Suggestion.

June 2018
Optical and thermal filtering nanoporous materials for sub-ambient radiative cooling published in Journal of Optics (special issue on new materials for nanophotonics) – Congrats to Hannah Kim! 

May 2018
Alex, Sean, and Zach pass their candidacy exams, and to Hannah and Tobias on passing their preliminary exams!

April 2018
Alex Hill receives an honorary mention from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship program.

March 2018
Optically transparent thermally insulating silica aerogels for solar thermal insulation published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces – Congrats to Hannah Kim!