The Lenert Lab 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 associate 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

Group Photo Album


September 2022

At the Department Graduate Symposium, Sean McSherry receives the Research Award and an Oral Presentation Award, while Bosun Roy-Layinde receives the Service Award and a Poster Award.

Congratulations to Areefa for completing the Doctoral Candidacy Exam!

Congratulations to newly minted Drs. Zachary Berquist and Alexander Hill! Zach and Alex successfully defended their theses titled “Developing Thermally Robust Aerogels for Next-Generation Linear Solar Receivers” and “Controlling Nanoscale Restructuring to Improve Catalyst Activity, Stability, and Material Utilization”, respectively.

Andrej receives the Henry Russel Award, the university’s highest honor for faculty members at the early to mid-career stages of their careers.

June 2022

Air-Bridge Si Thermophotovoltaic Cell with High Photon Utilization published in ACS Energy Letters – Congrats to Bosun and Tobias!

Andrej’s preview, Nexus of solar and thermal photovoltaic technology could help solve the energy storage problem, published in Joule.

May 2022

Congrats to Andres and Carissa for passing the Doctoral Candidacy Exams!

Andrej is promoted to Associate Professor.

April 2022

Bosun receives a department Climate and Culture Award for the second year in a row.

Andrej receives the NSF CAREER Award to develop new device architectures for super-efficient optoelectronic power generation and cooling.

Undergraduate researcher Sean Fernandez earns 1st Place at the Department Undergraduate Research Symposium.

March 2022

Sean McSherry receives the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship which supports outstanding doctoral students working on dissertations that are unusually creative, ambitious, and impactful.

Andrej receives the College of Engineering’s 1938E Award in recognition for outstanding teaching, counseling of students, and contributions to educational growth.

February 2022

Alex Hill for receives the College of Engineering’s Richard and Eleanor Towner Prize for Outstanding GSIs, who demonstrate innovation & excellence in teaching, and dedication to student success.

Zach Berquist makes it to the Chain Reaction Innovations Finals.

Andrej receives the Departmental Excellence Award in recognition for outstanding research, teaching, mentoring and service.

January 2022

Congrats: Dr. Tobias Burger!  Tobias successfully defends his dissertation titled “Eliminating out-of-band loss in thermophotovoltaic systems utilizing cell-side spectral control.”

Sustaining efficiency at elevated power densities in InGaAs airbridge thermophotovoltaic cells published in Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells Congrats to Bosun! 

November 2021

DOE funds a $3.1M project to advance the use of transparent thermal insulation in solar thermal plants, led by the group.

October 2021

The group welcomes new graduate students Areefa Rahman, Andres Miranda Manon, and Carissa Yim!

Stabilizing Highly Dispersed Halo Sites in Thermally Restructured Palladium Core@shell Nanoparticles for Improved Catalyst Activity and Durability published in ACS Applied Nano Materials – Congrats to Alex Hill!

September 2021

NSF awards $2M to replace fossil fuels with solar power in fertilizer production.

Andrej was selected to join the Lurie Nanofabrication Facility Council.

Alex Hill receives the Joseph J. Martin Award which recognizes an outstanding graduate student in ChE based on scholarship, athletic ability, and service to the department.

August 2021

Bosun and Alex receive the department Climate and Culture Award for their efforts in DEI, including improving mentorship opportunities and mental well-being!

July 2021

Tunable Atomic Layer Deposition into Ultra-High-Aspect-Ratio (>60000:1) Aerogel Monoliths Enabled by Transport Modeling published in Chemistry of Materials – Congrats to Zach Berquist!

June 2021

Bosun passes the thesis proposal exam!

May 2021

Congrats: Dr. Hannah Kim!  Hannah successfully defends her dissertation entitled “Tailoring optical and thermal properties of nanostructured materials for passive radiative cooling.” Hannah will begin BASF’s competitive Leadership Development Program, which will see her travel to several locations over the next couple of years.

April 2021

The group welcomes a new postdoc, Ali Davoodabadi!

March 2021

Oluka Okia (Michigan SROP 2020, Case Western Undergrad) receives an NSF GRFP!

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

Zach Berquist wins the Service Award in Chemical Engineering. Well deserved!

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!