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Craig Fennie, assistant professor of applied and engineering physics, uses theory to study new, structurally and chemically complex solids and nanostructures. Employing a "materials by design" strategy that involves combining microscopic models with principles of chemistry and symmetry, Fennie discovers new materials with predicted physical properties from first principles using techniques like density functional theory, then works closely with experimental physicists to synthesize and test them.

Fennie's work may lead to structures that serve as the basis for future electronic devices, and that could help improve the efficiency with which materials capture solar energy -- new structurally and chemically complex materials with capabilities beyond our current understanding and imagination.