Richard Robinson

Richard Douglas Robinson

Associate Professor
Materials Science and Engineering
Bard Hall, Room 129


Professor Robinson's research focuses on nanostructured materials for alternative energy applications. Our goal is to utilize the advanced properties of nanomaterials to build efficient thermoelectrics and fuel cells. By altering the size, shape, and composition of our particles we are able to tune properties important to these applications such as their band gap and thermal conductivity. Additionally our conducting metal oxide nanomaterials can be used in a variety of other energy applications where charge transport is important.

Research Interests

Research Projects -Colloidal synthesis of nanoparticle metal oxides -Doping of nanoparticles to control electronic and thermal properties -Synthesis of new organometallic precursors for nanoparticles -In situ studies of particle nucleation and growth -Nanofabrication of monochromatic phonon source

Much of our synthetic work revolves around colloidal synthesis of nanoparticles, relying on solvothermal, air-free techniques. We use a variety of organometallic precursors and surfactant groups to control nanoparticle composition and growth rate, with the ultimate goal of structuring efficient materials specifically for thermoelectric and fuel cell applications. The particles are assembled into macro-sized materials through a variety of means en route to producing devices. To enhance our understanding of thermoelectrics we are studying the heat transport, carrier confinement, phonon boundary scattering, and thermoelectric properties in low-dimensional materials. We're developing a monochromatic phonon source and a phonon spectrometer to accomplish this. Other fundamental research areas include the study of nanoparticle growth and nucleation, ion intercalation, and surface ligand chemistry.

Selected Publications

  • D.R. Nevers* C.B. Williamson*, B.H. Savitzky, I.H. Hadar, U. Banin, L.F. Kourkoutis, Tobias Hanrath†, and R.D. Robinson†, “Mesophase Formation Stabilizes High-purity Magic-sized Clusters,” JACS 140, 3652 (2018) DOI: 10.1021/jacs.7b12175

    D.R. Nevers* C.B. Williamson*, Tobias Hanrath†, and R.D. Robinson†, “Surface Chemistry of Cadmium Sulfide Magic-sized Clusters: A Window into Ligand-Nanoparticle Interactions,” Chem. Comm. 53, 2866-2869 (2017) DOI: 10.1039/c6cc09549f

    A. Nelson*, D.-H. Ha*, R.D. Robinson, “Selective Etching of Copper Sulfide Nanoparticles and Heterostructures through Sulfur Abstraction: Phase Transformations and Optical Properties,” Chemistry of Materials 28, 8530-8541 (2016) DOI: 10.1021/acs.chemmater.6b02764

    A. Nelson*, K.E. Fritz*, S. Honrao, R.G. Hennig, R.D. Robinson†, and J. Suntivich†, “Increased Activity in Hydrogen Evolution Electrocatalysis for Partial Anionic Substitution in Cobalt Oxysulfide Nanoparticles,” J. Mater. Chem. A 4, 2842-2848 (2016) DOI: 10.1039/c5ta08706f

    C.B. Williamson, D.R. Nevers, T. Hanrath†, R.D. Robinson†, “The Prodigious Effects of Concentration Intensification on Nanoparticle Synthesis: A High-Quality, Scalable Approach,” J. Am. Chem. Soc. 137, 15843 (2015)DOI:10.1021/jacs.5b10006

    S.D. Perera, X. Ding, A. Bhargava, R. Hovden, A. Nelson, L.F. Kourkoutis, R.D. Robinson, “Enhanced Supercapacitor Performance for Equal Co-Mn Stoichiometry in Colloidal Co3-xMnxO4 Nanoparticles, in Additive-Free Electrodes,” Chem. Mater. 27, 7861-7873 (2015). 10.1021/acs.chemmater.5b02106

  • Top 10 downloaded paper of Chemistry of Materials, December 2015
  • D-H. Ha, A.H. Caldwell, M.J. Ward, S. Honrao, K. Mathew, R. Hovden, M.K.A. Koker, D.A. Muller, R.G. Hennig, and R.D. Robinson, “Solid-Solid Phase Transformations Induced through Cation Exchange and Strain, in 2D Heterostructured Copper Sulfide Nanocrystals,” Nano Letters 14, 7090–7099(2014) DOI:  

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Fulbright Scholar 2015
  • Cornell Engineering Research Excellence Award 2015
  • Non-Tenured Faculty Award (3M) 2012
  • NSF Career Award (DMR-CMP, 2012) 2012
  • R&D 100 Award (Nanocrystal Solar Cells) 2009


  • M.S. (Mechanical Engineering), Tufts University,
  • B.S. (Mechanical Engineering), Tufts University,
  • Ph.D. (Applied Physics), Columbia University, 2004


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