Dr. Ilan Stern is a senior research scientist in the energy and sustainability group in Georgia Tech Research Institute’s Aerospace, Transportation & Advanced Systems lab.
He joined GTRI in 2012 after completing his doctorate in physics at Tulane University, specializing in thin film nano-fabrication and characterization. Before that, he received a Bachelor of Science from Ohio State University in physics and astrophysics.
“For me, my passion is in energy systems — harvesting producing and storing. These are ways of making our society more sustainable and energy efficient. It can have a particularly profound effect in impoverished nations, where resources are so scarce.”
Since arriving at GTRI, he has led a multi-million-dollar portfolio and has developed research thrusts in piezoelectric energy systems, as well as the development of graphene-based energy storage devices.
Stern explained that piezoelectric energy is the conversion of mechanical to electric energy based on compression.
“Think of it like a sponge filled with water,” he elaborated. “When you squeeze it, the water running out is the electrons or charge.”
Stern has been the principal investigator of various projects funded by federal, state and industry entities, and has conducted extensive research in the fields of nano-material deposition, thin film technology, solid state physics, microelectronic fabrication, characterization, piezoelectric energy harvesting, and solar energy generation.
Stern’s wife, Marsha, is a physician at Emory. The couple have two sons, Aiden, 3, and Zackary, 1. Stern is an avid basketball player and loves to travel with his family.