Carnegie Mellon University

Jay Whitacre

Jay Whitacre

Trustee Professor in Energy

Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890


Research Areas: Inorganic Functional Materials | Soft, Nanostructured & Bioactive Materials

Dr. Whitacre earned a BA in Physics from Oberlin College in 1994, followed by a Masters (1997) and Ph.D. (1999) in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan, where his doctoral work was focused on thin film and surface preparation and characterization. He was then a Postdoctoral Scholar at The California Institute of Technology (at JPL) from 1999 to 2000, where he worked to characterize and optimize the performance of thin film solid-state electrochemical devices. He subsequently accepted a technical staff position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and was promoted to Senior Member Technical Staff in 2003. His work at JPL was focused on developing materials system for energy storage technologies. During this time, he was also trained as a systems engineer and became a member of several mission design groups as well as the Mars Science Laboratory development team. Dr. Whitacre became an assistant professor at CMU in fall 2007, and was promoted to Full Professor in 2015. His work at CMU has been focused on developing and analyzing new materials and systems for electrochemical energy storage and conversion. In 2008, a first-generation version of the AHI chemistry was developed in his labs at CMU, and subsequent incubation work resulted in the spin out of Aquion Energy from CMU in late 2009.  

Whitacre has authored or co-authored over 60 peer review papers and is an inventor on over 30 patents that are issued or pending. He has numerous honors to his name, including the 2014 Caltech/Resnick Sustainability Institute Resonate Award, was listed as one of the top 25 Eco-Innovators in the world by Fortune Magazine in 2014, and was the 2015 winner of the $500,000 Lemelson-MIT Prize for Innovation. 


Ph.D., The University of Michigan 


Professor Whitacre studies the materials science of synthesizing and implementing promising materials and device architectures for energy storage and generation technologies. Ongoing or recent work topics include:

  • The production and analysis of controlled Li-ion battery cathode surfaces to enhance the fundamental understanding of materials performance and functionality in the battery environment
  • The creation and testing of optimized mixed active material composite cathode structures for dual rate batteries
  • Low temperature synthesis routes for Li-ion battery active materials
  • Catalyst selection for fuel cells
  • Fuel cell proton exchange membrane surface modification for increased current densities
  • Ultra fast laser modification of materials for solid-state electrochemical devices
  • Hybrid power systems for distributed and mobile platforms
  • Concurrent engineering design
  • Low cost batteries for non-mobile applications
  • High energy density electrode materials systems

Dr. Whitacre holds a joint appointment with the Department of Engineering and Public Policy, where he studies the policy implications involved with materials and technologies for the energy sector. These topics include the economics of scaled production, lifecycle analyses (including analyzing the "energy footprint" of manufacturing energy related products), the implications of broad adoption of new energy technologies, large-scale energy storage devices, and concurrent engineering analyses of power systems.


G He, J Michalek, S Kar, Q Chen, D Zhang, JF Whitacre, Utility-Scale Portable Energy Storage Systems, Joule, DOI: 10.1016/j.joule.2020.12.005, 2021.

G He, S Kar, J Mohammadi, P Moutis, J Whitacre, Power System Dispatch with Marginal Degradation Cost of Battery Storage, IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, 2020.

MM Whiston, IM Lima Azevedo, S Litster, C Samaras, KS Whitefoot, JF Whitacre, Hydrogen Storage for Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles: Expert Elicitation and a Levelized Cost of Driving Model. Environmental Science & Technology 55, (1) 553–562, 2021.

S Burke, JF Whitacre, How Synthetic Quench Rate and Composition Affect the Performance of Lithium Nickel Manganese Oxide Cathode Materials, Journal of the Electrochemical Society 167 (16), 160518, 2020.

X Liu, S Shanbhag, S Natesakhawat, JF Whitacre, MS Mauter, Performance Loss of Activated Carbon Electrodes in Capacitive Deionization: Mechanisms and Material Property Predictors, Environmental Science & Technology 54 (23), 15516-15526, 2020.