Dunbar Birnie

Dunbar Birnie

Professor & Corning/Saint Gobain/Malcolm G. McLaren Chair

Materials Science and Engineering

Office Hours: By appointment
Website: Birnie Group Research Overview

Link to Dr.Birnie’s Google Scholar Page



Professor Birnie's teaching responsibilities during the 2023-2024 academic year are:

Spring 2024:

  • MSE Seminar, 14:635:404
  • Electrochemical Devices, 14:635:440
  • Modern Electrochem, 16:635,528
  • Research Materials, 16:635:702

Fall 2023:

  • MSE Seminar, 14:635:403
  • Solar Cell Dsgn Proc, 14:635:405
  • Solar Cell Design & Processing (Graduate), 16:645:570

Research Urls:


Research Interests

Solar Cell Processing Research: The Birnie group’s recent research has focused on electrochemical deposition of thin semiconductor layers targeting mid-range band-gap values for incorporation into future tandem design solar cells paired with silicon. They have worked on both Cu2O and CdSe, which each have band-gaps near 2eV. Earlier work had concentrated on dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSC’s), which may be suitable for scaling to roll-to-roll printing processes. Their DSSC research especially examined templating methods to enhance the coupled electrical performance for the electrolyte.

Solar Usage in Transportation Systems: When working on solar cell processing it is also important to understand the bigger picture about how solar is implemented for usage in systems. The group’s work in this area has included aspects of solar tracker design for improving overall energy capture as well as examining solar usage in conjunction with electric and hybrid vehicles. They are particularly interested in how the practical usage of these technologies together will influence the engineering design.

Batteries for Grid Storage: When building toward more expansive solar installation it becomes much more important to have electrical storage for the grid. This amounts to a massive amount of storage so cost and long term cyclability are key issues.  The group is especially interested in systems where ceramic materials are enablers to achieve the high performance desired. Various compositions are candidates for electrolytes in future Li and Na battery systems.

Sol-Gel Coating Quality Studies: Prof. Birnie has extensive experience in making coatings from solutions, especially using the spin-coating technique, and in applications requiring the sol-gel chemistry for achieving useful phases and microstructures. Specific research topics have emphasized coating quality studies and understanding of various defect formation mechanisms. Striations, chuck-marks, and skin failures all have important signatures that allow for diagnosis and improvement of coating thickness uniformity for many important applications. 

Cultivation of Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Research in the Birnie group aims to provide innovation in areas impacting clean energy (solar, EVs, batteries, etc.). Students are encouraged to develop research ideas with practical goals in mind. Patents are used as frequent examples in Prof. Birnie’s solar and battery classes. Prof. Birnie also networks with other entrepreneurship groups on campus to promote an ecosystem of innovation and to assist students with their new-business development ambitions.

Selected Publications

Selected Citations/Papers

Photovoltaic Materials Synthesis, Design and Characterization

  • (Assessment of the Tauc Method for Band Gap Determination) B. D. Viezbicke, Shane Patel, B. E. Davis and D. P. Birnie, III, “Evaluation of the Tauc Method for Optical Absorption Edge Determination: ZnO Thin Films as a Model System”, Physica Status Solidi, B252, 1700-1710 (2015), (Link to Archival Journal site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3W097T7).
  • (Tandem Solar Device Design and Simulation) Vishnu Vijayakumar and D. P. Birnie, III, “Optical and Electronic Simulation of Gallium Arsenide / Silicon Tandem Four Terminal Solar Cells”, Solar Energy, 97, 85-92, (2013), (Link to Archival Journal site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T39K48JR).
  • (Novel Earth-Abundant Composition Synthesis) B. D. Viezbicke and D. P. Birnie, III, “Solvothermal Synthesis of Cu3BiS3 Enabled by Precursor Complexing”, ACS Sustainable Chemistry and Engineering, 1, 306-308 (2013), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Electrodes for Flexible DSSC’s) V. Vijayakumar, A. Du Pasquier, and D. P. Birnie, III, “Electrical and Optical studies of Flexible Stainless Steel Mesh Electrodes for Dye Sensitized Solar Cells”, Solar Energy Materials and Solar Cells, 95, 2120-2125 (2011) (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Templating for Enhanced Ionic Transport in DSSC’s) Sarika Phadke, Aurelien du Pasquier, Dunbar P. Birnie, III, “Enhanced Electron Transport Through Template-Derived Pore Channels in Dye Sensitized Solar Cells”, Journal of Physical Chemistry, C, 37, 18342-47 (2011), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Templated Microstructure Development in DSSC’s) L. Qi, J. D. Sorge, and D. P. Birnie, III, “Dye Sensitized Solar Cells Based on TiO2 Coatings with Dual Size-Scale Porosity”, J. Amer. Ceram. Soc., 92, pp1921-1925 (2009), (Link to Archival Journal site).

EV’s, Solar, and Battery Systems and Technology

  • (Performance Analysis of EV’s with Solar-Roofs) D. P. Birnie, III, “Analysis of Energy Capture by Vehicle Solar Roofs in Conjunction with Workplace Plug-In Charging”, Solar Energy, 125, 219-226 (2016), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Battery+Solar Variability Analysis for Storm Resilience) D. P. Birnie, III, “Optimal Battery Sizing for Storm-Resilient Photovoltaic Power Island Systems”, Solar Energy, 109, 165-173, (2014), (Link to Archival Journal site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T32R3Q21).
  • (Battery and Vehicle Weight Analysis) B. D. Viezbicke and D. P. Birnie, III, “Understanding Parasitic Energy Costs for PHEV Conversion Packs as we Move toward V2G”, International Journal of Electric and Hybrid Vehicles, 3, 309-317 (2011), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Combining Workplace Solar Parking Canopies with Plug-In Vehicles) D. P. Birnie, III, “Solar-to-Vehicle (S2V) Systems for Powering Commuters of the Future”, Journal of Power Sources, 186, 539-542 (2009), (Link to Archival Journal Site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3QJ7FF0).

Sol-Gel Coating Science

  • (Marangoni Effect in Coating Drying – the Thin Film Limit) . P. Birnie, III, “A Model for Drying Control Co-Solvent Selection for Spin Coating Uniformity: The Thin Film Limit”, Langmuir, 29, 9072-8, (2013), (Link to Archival Journal site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3PC30GH).
  • (Marangoni Effect in Coating Drying – the Thick Film Limit) D. P. Birnie, III, “Rational Solvent Selection Strategies to Combat Striation Formation during Spin Coating of Thin Films”, J. Materials Res., 16, 1145-54 (2001), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Laser Interferometry to Monitor Spin Coating) D. P. Birnie, III, "Combined Flow and Evaporation During Spin Coating of Complex Solutions", J. Non-Crystalline Solids, 218, 174-178 (1997). (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Spin Coating Defect Analysis) D. P. Birnie, III, B. J. J. Zelinski, S. P. Marvel, S. M. Melpolder, and R. Roncone, "Film/Substrate/Vacuum-Chuck Interactions During Spin Coating", Optical Engineering, 31, 2012-2020 (1992), (Link to Archival Journal site).

Crystal Chemistry and Diffusion

  • (Analysis of Na Conduction Plane Width) Dunbar P. Birnie III, “On the Structural Integrity of the Spinel Block in the b”-Alumina Structure”, Acta Crystallographica, B68, 118-122, (2012), (Link to Archival Journal site). (Rutgers Library Archive of accepted pre-publication version can be loaded here: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.7282/T3T43R6V).
  • (Defects and Diffusion including Nonstoichiometry in LiNbO3) D. P. Birnie, III and P. F. Bordui, "Defect-Based Description of Lithium Diffusion into Lithium Niobate", J. Applied Physics, 76, 3422-3428 (1994), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (A Model for Diffusion in SiC) D. P. Birnie, III: "A Model for Silicon Self Diffusion In Silicon Carbide: Anti-Site Defect Motion", J. Amer. Ceramic Soc. 69, c33-c35 (1986), (Link to Archival Journal site).

Phase Transformation Modeling

  • (Simulation of Anisotropic Growth Morphology) M. C. Weinberg, D. P. Birnie, III, and V. F. Farias, "Simulation of Anisotropic Particle Shape Development During 2D Transformation", J. Physical Chemistry B, 106, 8318-8325 (2002), (Link to Archival Journal site).
  • (Blocking Effects on Transformation Kinetics) M. C. Weinberg and D. P. Birnie, III, "Transformation Kinetics for Randomly Oriented Anisotropic Particles", J. Non-Crystalline Solids, 189, 161-166 (1995), (Link to Archival Journal site).