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Physics and Astronomy Profile

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Apparao Rao

Physics and Astronomy

Endowed Professor

Founding Director, Clemson Nanomaterials Institute
R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics
Fellow of the American Physical Society
Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science
Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors
Fellow of the Materials Research Society

Duke Innovation Center 200 (Lab)
Kinard Lab 202C (Office)


Educational Background

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Materials Science and Engineering, MIT, 1991
Ph.D., Condensed Matter Physics, University of Kentucky, 1989
M.S., Physics, University of Kentucky, 1985
B.S., Physics, University of Bombay, 1983

Profile/About Me

Apparao M. Rao joined the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University in Fall 2000. He currently serves as the Robert A. Bowen Professor of Physics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University and the founding director of the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute (CNI). He is known for developing Raman spectroscopy as a versatile tool for characterizing carbon nanomaterials, and for developing the liquid-injection based synthesis methods for carbon nanotubes. Because of his sustained research in nanomaterials and for building competitiveness in the State of South Carolina, the Governor of South Carolina, the Honorable Nikki Haley conferred on him in 2014 the State’s highest honor - the Governor’s award for excellence in scientific research. Rao is also an adjunct professor at the Sri Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Learning (SSSIHL), India where he initiated a nanomaterials program, and continues to directs research projects of M.S. and Ph.D. students at SSSIHL.

Research Interests

His current research at Clemson University focuses on the many applications of carbon and other nanomaterials in energy generation (thermoelectrics, triboelectrics, piezoelectrics) and energy storage (supercapacitors and batteries) technologies. Future interests include the use of machine learning to accelerate discovery and development at CNI, and quantum technologies.

Research Group (Lab)

CNI is located at the Clemson University Advanced Materials Research Laboratory in Anderson County. The Institute specializes in studying the fundamental properties and applications of a broad range of nanomaterials and is developing cutting-edge multidisciplinary research that can widen the frontiers of nanoscience and significantly impact industrial technologies. Established in 2013, CNI contains approximately 5,000 square-feet of research space and houses a variety of synthesis and characterization equipment. Currently, CNI has seven active agreements with industrial partners, and nearly 10 faculty members, 25 students and postdocs use the facility for various collaborative projects. Recently, ATLIS Motor Vehicles, Inc. and Clemson University have partnered to advance development of electric-vehicle batteries that charge faster, last longer and can be scaled to fit a variety of vehicle classes. ATLIS is developing battery cells and packs to power the Atlis XP Platform and XT Truck, and the associated battery research is being jointly executed at CNI.

Courses Taught

General Physics Course in Mechanics, Heat and Sound
General Physics Course in Electricity, Magnetism, Optics & Relativity
Calculus-based Physics Course in Modern Physics
Solid-State Physics
Methods of Spectroscopy
Selected Research Topics

Selected Publications

Notable Publications

“In-situ observation of trapped carriers in organic metal halide perovskite films with ultra-fast temporal and ultra-high energetic resolutions”, K. Kobbekaduwa, S. Shrestha, P. Adhikari, E. Liu, L. Coleman, J. Zhang, Y. Shi, Y. Zhou, Y. Bekenstein, F. Yan, A. M. Rao, H. Tsai, M. C Beard, W. Nie, and J. Gao, Nature Communications, 12 (2021).

“Sulfur-assisted Large-scale Synthesis of Graphene Microspheres for Superior Potassium-ion Batteries”, Q. Zhang, X. Cheng, C. Wang, A. M. Rao, and B. Lu, Energy and Environmental Science, 14, 965-974 (2021).

“Artificial SEI for Super-high Performance K-Graphite Anode”, Q. Liu, A. M. Rao, and B. Lu, Advanced Science (2021).

“Cell-like-carbon-micro-spheres for robust potassium anode”, H. Ding, J. Zhou, A. M. Rao and B. Lu, National Science Review (2020).

“High zT and its origin in Sb-doped GeTe single crystals”, V. K. Ranganayakulu, C-L. Chen, T-W. Lan, S. H. Yu, S. Yano, M. Ou, C-R. Hsing, C-M. Wei, M-Y. Chou, K-H. Chen, T-L. Hung, C-H. Lee, Y-Y. Chen, P. Parajuli, F. Liu, R. Rao, S. Bhattacharya, and A. M. Rao, Advanced Science, 7, 2002494 (2020) DOI: 10.1002/advs.202002494.

“Enhancing catalytic activity of tungsten disulfide through topology”, L. Wang, G. Zhou, H. Luo, Q. Zhang, J. Wang, C. Zhao, A. M. Rao, B. Xu, B. Lu, Applied Catalysis B: Environmental, 2019,

“Quasi-one-dimensional Mo chains for efficient hydrogen evolution reaction”, L. Wang, X. Liu, Q. Zhang, G. Zhou, Y. Pei, S. Chen, J. Wang, A. M. Rao, H. Yang, B. Lu, Nano Energy, 61, 194-200 (2019).

“Simultaneous Suppression of the Dendrite Formation and Shuttle Effect in a Lithium-Sulfur Battery by Bilateral Solid Electrolyte Interface”, L. Fan, S. Chen, J. Zhu, R. Ma, S. Li, R. Podila, A. M. Rao, G. Yang, C. Wang, Q. Liu, Z. Xu, L. Yuan, Y. Huang, and B. Lu, Advanced Science, 5(9), 1700934 (2018). DOI: 10.1002/advs.201700934.

“Saturable Absorption in 2D Ti3C2 MXene Thin Films for Passive Photonic Diodes”, Y. Dong, S. Chertopalov, K. Maleski, B. Anasori, L. Hu, S. Bhattacharya, A. M. Rao, Y. Gogotsi, V. N. Mochalin, R. Podila, Advanced Materials, (2018).

“Metallic MXenes: A new family of materials for flexible triboelectric nanogenerators”,
Y. Dong, S. S. K. Mallineni, K. Maleski, H. Behlow, V. N. Mochalin, A. M. Rao, Y. Gogotsi, R, Podila, Nano Energy, 44, 103 (2018).

“A wireless triboelectric nanogenerator”, S. S. K. Mallineni, Y. Dong, H. Behlow, A. M. Rao, R. Podila, Advanced Energy Materials, 8, 1702736 (2018). DOI: 10.1002/aenm.201702736.

“A Raman spectroscopic study of graphene cathodes in high-performance aluminum ion batteries”, A. S. Childress, P. Parajuli, J. Zhu, R. Podila, A. M Rao, Nano Energy, 39, 69-76 (2017).

“Facile and robust triboelectric nanogenerators assembled using off-the-shelf materials”, S. S. K. Mallineni, H. Behlow, Y. Dong, S. Bhattacharya, R. Podila, and A. M Rao, Nano Energy 35, 263-270 (2017).

“The intrinsic thermal conductivity of SnSe”, Pai-Chun Wei, S. Bhattacharya, J. He, S. Neeleshwar, R. Podila, Y. Y. Chen, and A. M. Rao, Nature, 539, Issue 7627, Pages
E1-E2 (2016).

Selected Talks

“Sulfur-assisted large-scale synthesis of graphene microspheres for superior potassium-ion batteries”, ACS Spring, April (2021).

“Quasi-one-dimensional Mo Chains for Efficient Hydrogen Evolution Reaction”, TMS Meeting, San Diego, CA, February (2020).

“Role of Anharmonicity on Thermoelectric Properties of Fully Dense Single-Crystalline SnSe”, 236th ECS Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October (2019).

“Carbon-Based Air-Cathodes for Hydrogen Peroxide Production in Microbial Fuel Cells”, 236th ECS Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October (2019).

“Bucky-Si-Bucky Sandwiched Structured Anode for Li-Ion Battery”, 236th ECS Meeting, Atlanta, GA, October (2019).

“Fullerene-based Triboelectric Nanogenerators”, Prakash Parajuli, Herbert Behlow, and Apparao M. Rao, The Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS 2019), Savannah, GA, October (2019).

“Beyond Lithium Ion Batteries - Opportunities and Challenges”, The Southeastern Regional Meeting of the American Chemical Society (SERMACS 2018), Augusta, GA, October (2018).

"Energy and our future: a perspective from the Clemson Nanomaterials Institute", International Conference on Advanced Functional Materials (ICAFM 2017), Basar, India, December (2017).

“New Process Integration Strategies for Efficient Nanostructured Li-ion Battery Cathodes”, Academic-Industry Workshop on Scalable Nanomanufacturing Technologies organized by NSF, Alexandria, October (2107).


Member, Sigma Xi (2020- present).
Member, Materials Research Society, MRS (1985- present).
Member, American Physical Society, APS (1985- present).
Member, American Carbon Society, (1985- present).
Member, American Association for Advancement of Science (2002- present).
Member, American Chemical Society (2010- present).
Member, The Minerals, Metals, and Materials (TMS) Society (2006- present).
Member, IEEE, (2014)
Member, American Vacuum Society, (2002-2004).
Member, Electrochemical Society, (1999).

Honors and Awards

Elected as the Fellow of the Materials Research Society, 2020.
Elected as the Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors, 2018
University Research, Scholarship and Artistic Achievement Award, 2018.
Governor's Award for Excellence in Scientific Research, South Carolina, 2014.
Alumni Award for Outstanding Achievement in Research, Clemson University, 2012.
Elected as the Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2011.
Appointed as the R. A. Bowen Professor of Physics, 2010.
Elected as the Fellow of the American Physical Society, 2008.


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