Recent News

Summer 2020


Tony Joseph Mathew received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Energy and Process Intensification & Biotechnology category, and won the Best Overall award, at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, Tony!


David Rokke received first place for his Oral Presentation in the Material Science category at the 29th Annual Symposium organized by Chemical Engineering Graduate Student Organization. Congratulations, David!


Solar Energy Research Group members David Rokke and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Annual AIChE conference are accepted for an oral presentation and two Graduate Student Award Oral Presentations respectively.


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Separations Research Group Member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty’s manuscript “Misconceptions about Efficiency and Maturity of Distillation” was published in AIChE Journal.


Separations Research Group member Radhakrishna Tumbalam Gooty is a winner of the 2020 AIChE Separations Division Graduate Student Research Award in the Distillation and Absorption area. Congratulations Radhakrishna!


Solar Energy Research Group member Swapnil Deshmukh is a winner of the best student paper award at the 47th IEEE PVSC. Congratulations Swapnil!


Separations Research Group member Zewei Chen, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Classification and Comparison of Dividing Walls for Distillation Columns” was published in Processes.


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is interviewed on the Purdue University College of Engineering’s podcast, “Sounds Like the Future” on Episode 08: Advancing Sustainability Across Disciplines. Prof. Agrawal discusses his research and interests centered around sustainability


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh, Kyle Weideman, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Analyzing and Tuning the Chalcogen–Amine–Thiol Complexes for Tailoring of Chalcogenide Syntheses” was published in Inorganic Chemistry


Spring 2020


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis, Jonathan Turnley, David Rokke, Jacob Fields, Essam Alruqobah, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Hybrid Ligand Exchange of Cu(In,Ga)S2 Nanopartcles for Carbon Impurity Removal in Solution Processed Photovoltaics” was published in Chemistry of Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Essam AlRuqobah’s and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal’s manuscript, “Potassium Treatments for Solution-Processed Cu(In,Ga)(S,Se)2 Solar Cells” was published in ACS Applied Energy Materials


Solar Energy Research Group member Joseph Andler successfully defended his thesis. Congratulations Joe!


Solar Energy Research Group members, Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to IEEE’s 2020 PVSC conference were both selected for (now virtual) oral presentations


Solar Energy Research Group member, David Rokke, is accepted to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Hands on Photovoltaic Experience (HOPE) 2020 program, a week long on-site educational program with field experts at NREL


Group member Tony Mathew received the 2020 Estus H. and Vashti L. Magoon Award for Excellence in Teaching by the College of Engineering for his teaching assistantship of CHE660: Chemical Reaction Engineering during the Spring 2019 semester


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and alumni Xianyi Hu are co-authors of a newly published book, “Sustainable Photovoltaics,” which is an overview of various research projects that were a part of the SERIIUS funding network


Group members Ryan Ellis, Swapnil Deshmukh, and Zewei Chen all receive $1000 travel grants from the Davidson School of Chemical Engineering for conference travel


Solar Energy Research Group members Ryan Ellis and Swapnil Deshmukh’s submissions to the 2020 Spring MRS conference are accepted for oral presentations


Fall 2019


Solar Energy Research Group member Ryan Ellis wins first place in the Electronics and Photonic Materials Graduate Student Awards Session at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting for his oral presentation. Congratulations, Ryan!


Prof. Agrawal is an invited panelist for the Meet the Innovators presentation and panel discussion at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Ryan Ellis, Kyle Weideman, Zewei Chen, Jose Adrian Chavez Velasco, Yiru Li, and Peter Oladipupo all give oral presentations at the 2019 AIChE Annual Meeting


Solar Energy Research Group members Swapnil Deshmukh,* Ryan Ellis,* David Rokke, Dwi Sutandar and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish a paper titled, “Versatile Colloidal Synthesis of Metal Chalcogenide Nanoparticles from Elemental Precursors using Amine-Thiol Chemistry” in Chemistry of Materials


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal is awarded the Phillip C. Wankat Graduate Teaching Award in Chemical Engineering recognizing his achievements as an instructor in graduate-level courses. Congratulations, Prof. Agrawal!


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal writes a “Behind the Paper” blog post for Nature Sustainability describing the motivation behind the recently published paper


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a second blog post on Medium discussing the concept of Aglectric Farming


Prof. Rakesh Agrawal and Prof. Mitch Tunistra write a blog post on Medium featuring the NRT team and their research along with the new Nature Sustainability publication


Group alumni Caleb Miskin and current group members Yiru Li, Ryan Ellis, and Prof. Rakesh Agrawal publish, “Sustainable co-production of food and solar power to relax land-use constraints” in Nature Sustainability


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Welcome to the Rakesh Agrawal Research Group Webpage


Dr. Rakesh Agrawal awarded NSF Research Traineeship (NRT) funding for graduate education in STEM fields

The NSF-wide NRT program addresses key issues in the scientific community, including educating and expanding the science and engineering workforce, broadening participation in STEM education to include traditionally underserved populations, and creating new resources at institutions that train STEM graduate students:

Sustainable Food, Energy, and Water Systems (SFEWS): Rakesh Agrawal, Purdue University, and Aavudai Anandhi Swamy, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University.



The Rakesh Agrawal Research Group consists of three sub-groups each focusing on different fields of research: Solar Energy (Photovoltaics), Energy Systems Engineering, and Separations Optimization.

The Solar Energy Group focuses on the fabrication of high efficiency solution processed solar cells. Using colloidal nanoparticle inks or molecular precursors, solar cells can be fabricated from solution based methods such as spin-coating, doctor blading, inkjet printing, or spray coating. The solution based method forgoes the typical high vacuum needed for semiconductor processing, potentially leading to significantly reduced manufacturing costs.

The Energy Systems Group focuses on development and optimization of processes to meet crucial societal needs, such as transportation fuel, chemicals, and electricity, primarily from renewable energy sources to enable a sustainable economy. This group also utilizes modeling to find the role of biofuels vis-a-vis other solar energy derived alternatives to propel an entire transport sector in a solar economy. Additionally work is being done on the efficient conversion of biomass to liquid fuel and maximizing liquid fuel from a given quantity of biomass.

The Separations Group focuses on developing energy-efficient separation processes. Currently methods to synthesize and identify energy-efficient distillation configurations for multi-component separation are being developed. Additional effort is being devoted to develop methods for identifying optimal membrane separation processes.