Akram Boukai Joins UM MSE as Assistant Professor

Akram Boukai Joins UM MSE as Assistant Professor

Assistant Professor Akram Boukai

Akram Boukai has joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering as an assistant professor. His plans are to develop a program for Innovative Green Energy Research.

A native of Southern California, Boukai attended University of California, Los Angeles, where he double-majored in electrical engineering and chemistry. While earning a PhD in chemistry from the California Institute of Technology, his research efforts focused on the thermoelectric properties of bismuth and silicon nanowires. He will complete his post-doctoral research on solar cells at University of California, Berkeley.

Through his doctoral work at Caltech, Boukai discovered that silicon nanowires have a 100-fold improvement in thermoelectric efficiency over bulk silicon1. Results from that research have demonstrated the possibility of using heat and temperature differences to generate electricity, a significant discovery because silicon is an abundant element in the Earth’s crust.

Boukai's research showed that the quality of a material’s surface and the way it is processed have significant effects on the efficiencies of thermoelectrics and solar cells. At U-M, he plans to further investigate renewable energy sources to power both thermoelectrics and solar cells and will strive to increase their efficiencies and lower their cost. He also plans to explore fundamental questions related to heat flow that arise at the nanoscale.

Boukai is looking forward to the opportunity to work with some of the brightest scientists and engineers in the nation. "I am most excited about interacting with my new colleagues and exploring my ideas further in the world-class MSE facilities."

1.Boukai et al. Nature, Issue 451, pp. 168-171 (2008).