Dr. Matthew McDowell joined Georgia Tech in the fall of 2015 as an assistant professor with a joint appointment in the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Materials Science and Engineering. Prior to this appointment, he was a postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, where he performed research on improving the stability and efficiency of photoelectrochemical devices for the production of solar fuels. Dr. McDowell received his Ph.D. in 2013 from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Stanford University, where his work focused on understanding phase transformations and mechanical degradation in Li-ion battery materials using in situ electron microscopy techniques, as well as engineering materials for improved battery lifetime and performance.

Dr. McDowell’s research focuses on electrochemical materials, devices, and processes. The group’s work encompasses both the fundamental investigation of materials transformations in electrochemical systems (and in other applications), as well as the development of improved energy systems through materials and device engineering. An area of emphasis is the development and use of in situ experimental techniques, including in situ transmission electron microscopy (TEM), to probe materials and devices during operation. A variety of different systems are being studied within Dr. McDowell’s research group, including next-generation rechargeable batteries, electrochemical devices for water splitting and sunlight-driven fuel generation, and nanoionic devices for low-power nonvolatile memory.

Research Challenges:
  • Ph.D. Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 2013
  • M.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Stanford University, 2011
  • B.S. Materials Science and Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, 2008
  • Materials Research Society (MRS) Graduate Student Gold Award, 2013
  • Stanford MSE R. A. Huggins Award for Excellence in Ph.D. Research, 2013     
  • Electrochemical Society Daniel Cubicciotti Award Honorable Mention, 2012              
  • National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship, 2009                                              
  • National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship, 2009                       
  • Stanford Graduate Fellowship, 2008
Grad Program:
Research Keywords:
Electrochemical energy conversion and storage, batteries, in situ characterization of electrochemical energy materials and systems, reaction mechanisms and phase transformations, mechanics of energy materials, electrochemistry, mesoscale dynamics of energy systems, transmission electron microscopy, catalysis, water splitting for solar fuels, photoelectrochemistry, nanotechnology, ionic conduction, semiconductors
Grad Students

Representative Publications

  • M. T. McDowell, M. F. Lichterman, A. I. Carim, R. Liu, S. Hu, B. S. Brunschwig, N. S. Lewis “The Influence of Structure and Processing on the Behavior of TiO2 Protective Layers for Stabilization of n-Si/TiO2/Ni Photoanodes for Water Oxidation” ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 17 June 2015, DOI: 10.1021/acsami.5b00379
  • R. H. Coridan, A. C. Nielander, S. A. Francis, M. T. McDowell, V. Dix, S. M. Chatman, N. S. Lewis “Methods for Comparing the Performance of Energy-Conversion Systems for Use in Solar Fuels and Solar Electricity Generation” Energy & Environmental Science, 13 April 2015, DOI: 10.1039/C5EE00777A.
  • M. T. McDowell, Z. Lu, K. J. Koski, J. H. Yu, G. Zheng, Y. Cui “In Situ Observation of Divergent Phase Transformations in Individual Sulfide Nanocrystals” Nano Letters, 20 January 2015, 15 (2) 1264-1271.
  • K. Sun, M. T. McDowell, A. C. Nielander, S. Hu, M. R. Shaner, F. Yang, B. S. Brunschwig, N. S. Lewis “Stable Solar-Driven Water Oxidation to O2(g) by Ni-Oxide Coated Silicon Photoanodes” The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, 19 January 2015, 6 (4) 592-598.
  • M. T. McDowell, M. F. Lichterman, J. M. Spurgeon, S. Hu, I. D. Sharp, B. S. Brunschwig, N. S. Lewis “Improved Stability of Polycrystalline Bismuth Vanadate Photoanodes by use of Dual-Layer Thin TiO2/Ni Coatings” The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, 7 August 2014, 118 (34) 19618-19624.
  • N. Liu, Z. Lu, J. Zhao, M. T. McDowell, H.-W. Lee, W. Zhao, Y. Cui “A pomegranate-inspired nanoscale design for large-volume change lithium battery anodes” Nature Nanotechnology, 16 February 2014, 9, 187-192.
  • C. Wang, H. Wu, Z. Chen, M. T. McDowell, Y. Cui, Z. Bao “Enabling Stable Operation for Silicon Microparticle Anodes for High-Energy Lithium Ion Batteries Using Self-Healing Chemistry” Nature Chemistry, 16 October 2013, 5, 1042-1048.
  • M. T. McDowell, S. W. Lee, W. D. Nix, Y. Cui “Understanding the Lithiation of Silicon and Other Alloying Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries” Advanced Materials, invited review for 25th anniversary special issue, 22 August 2013, 25 (36) 4966-4985.
  • M. T. McDowell, S. W. Lee, J. T. Harris, B. A. Korgel, C. M. Wang, W. D. Nix, Y. Cui “In-situ TEM of Two-Phase Lithiation of Amorphous Silicon Nanospheres” Nano Letters, 16 January 2013, 13 (2) 758-764.
  • M. T. McDowell, I. Ryu, S. W. Lee, C. M. Wang, W. D. Nix, Y. Cui “Studying the Kinetics of Crystalline Silicon Nanoparticle Lithiation with In-Situ Transmission Electron Microscopy” Advanced Materials4 September 2012, 24 (45) 6034-6041.
  • M. T. McDowell, S. W. Lee, C. M. Wang, Y. Cui “The Effect of Metallic Coatings and Crystallinity on the Volume Expansion of Silicon During Electrochemical Lithiation/Delithiation” Nano EnergyMay 2012, 1 (3) 401-410.
  • S. W. Lee, M. T. McDowell, L. A. Berla, W. D. Nix, Y. Cui “Fracture of Crystalline Silicon Nanopillars During Electrochemical Lithium Insertion” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 13 March 2012, 109 (11) 4080-4085.
  • C. D. Wessells, M. T. McDowell, S. V. Peddada, M. Pasta, R. A. Huggins, Y. Cui “Tunable Reaction Potentials in Open Framework Nanoparticle Battery Electrodes for Grid-Scale Energy Storage”ACS Nano 29 January 2012, 6 (2) 1688-1694.
  • M. T. McDowell, S.W. Lee, I. Ryu, W. D. Nix, J.W. Choi, Y. Cui “Novel Size and Surface Oxide Effects in Silicon Nanowires as Lithium Battery Anodes” Nano Letters 9 August 2011, 11 (9) 4018-4025.
  • M. T. McDowell, Y. Cui “Single Nanostructure Electrochemical Devices for Studying Electronic Properties and Structural Changes in Lithiated Si Nanowires.” Advanced Energy Materials 19 July 2011, 1 (5) 894-900.
  • Y. Yao, M. T. McDowell, I. Ryu, H. Wu, N. Liu, L. Hu, W. D. Nix, Y. Cui “Interconnected Silicon Hollow Nanospheres for Lithium-Ion Battery Anodes with Long Cycle Life.”Nano Letters 14 June 2011, 11 (7) 2949-2954.
  • S. W. Lee, M. T. McDowell, J.W. Choi, Y. Cui “Anomalous Shape Changes of Silicon Nanopillars by Electrochemical Lithiation.” Nano Letters 9 June 2011, 11 (7) 3034-3039.
  • Y. Yang, M. T. McDowell, A. Jackson, J.J.  Cha, S.S. Hong, Y. Cui “New Nanostructured Li2S/Si Rechargeable Battery with High Specific Energy” Nano Letters25 February 2010, 10 (4) 1486-1491.
  • M. T. McDowell, A. Leach, K. Gall “On the Elastic Modulus of Metallic Nanowires” Nano Letters23 October2008, 8 (11) 3613-3618.
  • M. T. McDowell, A. Leach, K. Gall “Bending and Tensile Deformation of Metallic Nanowires”Modelling and Simulation in Materials Science and Engineering 8 April 2008,16, 045003.