New Faculty Member, 2020–21
Assistant Professor, Electrical engineering
Nick Rolston joins the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering with a rich background that spans scalable material processing, thin-film mechanics, device physics characterization, and a vision to make next-generation energy technologies. His focus is primarily in the areas of photovoltaic devices and batteries.
Rolston’s interest in coming to Arizona State University stems from the institution’s commitment to innovation and world-class facilities, research and faculty collaborations.
“I am committed to building an interdisciplinary research program within the Fulton Schools of Engineering by working alongside a number of FSE faculty,” says Rolston. “I look forward to leveraging the incredible array of shared research facilities.”
To achieve his research goal of characterizing fundamental mechanical and material properties in next-generation renewable energy harvesting and storage materials, Rolston plans to study the interplay between these properties with device performance and degradation.
One of the most impactful accomplishments of his career to date has been the development of new open-air methods to produce thin-film perovskite photovoltaic, or PV, modules at the highest throughput and lowest manufacturing cost of any solar technology.
Reducing manufacturing costs could enable perovskites to compete with the pricier silicon-based PV for utility-scale power generation, providing momentum toward achieving the lowest levelized cost of energy for any form of PV production.
Along with continuing his breakthrough research, Rolston will teach courses in electronic materials and semiconductor device physics.
“Rather than being a ‘sage on the stage’ type of instructor, I hope to be more of a ‘guide on the side’ as the students actively participate in learning,” says Rolston.
A long-time mentor, Rolston has connected with students since he helped developed an AP Physics curriculum in high school and later as a teaching assistant in graduate school at Stanford University”
“I am most proud of the students who I mentored,” he says. “I believe that my leadership is not defined by the number of publications that I have co-authored or the accolades listed on my CV, but by the ripple effects from the genuine opportunities I have created for others to become involved in science and engineering.”
Outside of the lab, Rolston enjoys playing basketball, hiking and engaging in reckless food challenges. He aspires to one day have Devin Booker’s jump shot, Alex Honnold’s adventurous spirit and Joey Chestnut’s stomach capacity.