UCLA Chemical Engineer Receives NSF CAREER Award for Improving Efficiency of LEDs and Solar Cells

Carissa Eisler

UCLA Samueli


Feb 6, 2023

UCLA Samueli Newsroom
Carissa Eisler, an assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering, has received a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, the agency’s highest honor for faculty members in the early stages of their teaching and research careers.

The award includes a five-year, $695,000 grant to support Eisler’s research in understanding the fundamental light-emission properties of materials to enable ultra-high efficiency lighting, displays and solar cells.

Light emitting diodes (LEDs) are becoming ubiquitous in lighting, smart devices, and displays. While more efficient than traditional technologies because they produce much less waste heat, LEDs are still far from reaching their maximum possible efficiency and use more electricity than what is necessary to power a device. This is because the angles at which light is emitted from a device such as an electronic display can help determine the efficiency of the appliance. For example, light emitted at wider angles are not easily seen and can be trapped inside the device and becomes underutilized, thus increasing the energy required to power the device. 

To address this challenge, Eisler seeks to better understand the fundamental electronic and photonic phenomena involved when light moves through nanoscale materials that are about one-billionth of a meter in thickness. A promising candidate for her research is nanocrystals composed of cesium, lead and halide atoms. 

Knowledge gained from the study can help improve efficiency in lighting and solar cells, with the light’s direction, intensity and other properties all precision-tuned to maximize efficiency. Applications from the research could also lead to new discoveries in optical-computing and data-storage technologies.

The grant will support Eisler’s efforts to address current technological and social challenges in sustainability by training students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Planned activities include case study projects, undergraduate research opportunities and a solar industry-focused technical academy.

Eisler teaches courses on transport phenomena, including fluid flow and heat transfer in chemical, biological, materials and molecular processes. Prior to joining the UCLA faculty in 2018, she was a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. An alumna of UCLA where she earned a bachelor’s in chemical engineering, Eisler obtained her Ph.D. from Caltech. She has received a UCLA Hellman Fellowship, an Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Postdoctoral Fellowship, and an Everhart Distinguished Graduate Student Lecturer award.