Ismaila Dabo

Ismalia Dabo
  • Assistant Professor of Materials Science and Engineering
N-241 Millennium Science Complex
(814) 867-4886


Ismaila Dabo received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ecole Polytechnique (France) in 2002 and 2004.  He graduated with a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2008.  His doctoral research under the supervision of Dr. Marzari was dedicated to predicting the electrical response of quantum systems embedded in electrochemical environments and to studying chemical poisoning in low-temperature fuel cells.  After graduation, Ismaila Dabo became a postdoctoral researcher and then a permanent researcher at Ecole des Ponts, University of Paris-Est (France).  He joined the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn State in 2013.

Academic Training

Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique (France)
B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Ecole Polytechnique (France)


Over the last decade energy intensity has decreased at a rate of –1.5%/year globally.  Yet this decrease is slower than economic and demographic growth, leading to a sharp increase in the global energy demand of 2%/year.

Hence there is a need to develop sustainable energy alternatives by inventing materials that can store and convert energy faster and more efficiently.  To address this need researchers are increasingly relying on data-driven materials discovery and design.

Our group develops and uses computational methods to understand, predict and improve the performance of materials for energy conversion and storage.

A first activity aims at describing the electrical response of electrode materials with a focus on metal-oxide pseudocapacitors and carbon-based supercapacitors.  To this end we have developed self-consistent solvation models and Poisson-Boltzmann solvers to simulate electrodes under realistic electrochemical conditions taking into account the applied voltage and charge separation at electrode-electrolyte interfaces.

A second activity focuses on predicting the efficiency of energy conversion materials.  Emphasis is placed on polymer semiconductors for organic solar cells and nanoporous semiconductors for thermoelectric systems.  Understanding the photovoltaic and thermoelectric performance of materials requires reliable first-principles predictions of electron levels and band structures.  We have developed electronic-structure methods beyond DFT to address this problem, enabling the systematic screening of photovoltaic and thermoelectric materials.

Our research stands at the frontier between materials science, physical chemistry, applied mathematics, and computer science.  It is driven by collaboration with experiment.  Its ultimate goal is to break down the complexity of materials problems and guide the development of future energy materials and technologies.


Research Interests: 

Energy conversion and storage

Computational materials science

Quantum and multiscale simulations

Novel computational methods

Materials for electrochemistry

Materials for photochemistry

Spectroscopy of materials


Technology Impacted By Research: 

Fuel cells and flow batteries

Electrical batteries

Electrochemical capacitors

Water-splitting systems

Dye-sensitized solar cells

Materials simulation software