Daniel Esposito


Tel(212) 854-2648
Fax(212) 854-3054

Daniel Esposito’s Solar Fuels Engineering Laboratory develops solar and electrochemical technologies that convert renewable and abundant solar energy into storable chemical fuels. 

Research Interests

Solar energy conversion, photoelectrochemistry, electrocatalysis, membraneless electrochemical reactors, additive manufacturing for electrochemistry, interfacial science and engineering, and in-situ scanning probe microscopies.

Research Areas

His lab’s research is motivated by a sustainable energy future in which sunlight is used to convert low energy molecules such as water into storable chemical fuels such as hydrogen. These solar-generated fuels are often referred to as “solar fuels,” which offer an attractive means of storing solar energy and thereby overcome the issue of solar intermittency. Fuels also have the advantage of being versatile, meaning that they can be used for a wide variety of applications across transportation, industrial, residential, and commercial energy sectors. In the Solar Fuels Engineering Lab, the overarching goals are: (1) to develop novel materials and devices that can more efficiently and cost-effectively produce solar fuels than today’s state-of-the-art technology, and (2) to help equip the next generation of engineers with the skills they will need to engineer a sustainable energy future.

Esposito’s research group works at the intersections of catalysis, photovoltaics, materials science, and electrochemical engineering. By using advanced analytical techniques to study well-defined materials and electrodes, they seek to develop a deeper understanding of the fundamental chemical and physical phenomena that underlie the operation of solar and electrocatalytic technologies. Especially important to this research are scanning probe microscopy techniques, which are used to measure micro- and nano-scale spatial variation in the properties and performance of (photo)electrocatalytic materials while they are operating in the electrochemical environment. This materials-centric research is strongly complemented by efforts to design scalable photoelectrochemical (PEC) and photovoltaic (PV) electrolysis reactors, devices that convert sunlight or solar-generated electricity into solar fuels.  The group’s research in this second area relies on emerging 3D printing fabrication capabilities, modeling, and high speed video imaging to guide the design of innovative device concepts.

Esposito joined the Chemical Engineering Department at Columbia Engineering in 2014. Prior to that, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in the National Research Council Fellowship Program. He received his BS in chemical engineering in 2006 from Lehigh University and a PhD in chemical engineering in 2012 from the University of Delaware.

Research Experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Research Council (NRC) Fellowship Program, 2011 – 2014

Professional Experience

  • Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Columbia Engineering, 2014 – 


  • American Institute of Chemical Engineers
  • Electrochemical Society
  • American Chemical Society
  • Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society

Honors & Awards

  • NRC Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Institute of Standards and Technology National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Associateship Program, 2011 – 2014
  • Graduate Fellowship, University of Delaware, Bill N. Baron Fellowship Award, 2010
  • Graduate Fellowship, University of Delaware, NASA Delaware Space Grant College and Fellowship Program, 2008
  • Graduate Fellowship, University of Delaware, Solar Hydrogen IGERT Program, 2006
  • American Chemical Society Award for outstanding senior in Chemical Engineering at Lehigh University, 2006
  • Lehigh University, Chandler Award for excellence in Chemical Engineering, 2004

Selected Publications

  • J.T. Davis, D.V. Esposito, “Limiting Photocurrent Analysis of a Wide Channel Photoelectrochemical Flow Reactor”,  Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics.,  vol. 50, 8, 11 pp, 2017. (Special Issue on Solar Fuels)
  • D.V. Esposito, Y. Lee, N.Y. Labrador, H. Yoon, P. Haney, A.A. Talin, V. Szalai, T.P. Moffat, “Deconvoluting the Influences of 3-D Structure on the Performance of Photoelectrodes for Solar-Driven Water Splitting”.  Sustainable Energy & Fuels, 1, 154-173, (2017).
  • N. Y. Labrador, X. Li, Y. Liu, J. T. Koberstein, R. Wang, H. Tan, T. P. Moffat, D. V. Esposito,, “Enhanced Performance of Si MIS Photocathodes Containing Oxide-Coated Nanoparticle Electrocatalysts”. Nano Letters, 16, 6452-6459, (2016).
  • G.D. O’Neil, C. Christian, D. Brown, J.T. Davis, D.E. Brown, D.V. Esposito, “A Simple and Scalable Membraneless Electrolyzer for Hydrogen Production from Water Electrolysis”. J. Electrochemical Society, vol. 163 (11) F3012-F3019 (2016). (Focus Issue on Electrolysis for Increased Renewable Energy Penetration).
  • D.V. Esposito, J.B. Baxter, J. John, N.S. Lewis, T.P. Moffat, T. Ogitsu, G.D. O’Neil, T.A. Pham, A.A. Talin, J.M. Velazquez, B.C. Wood. “Methods of Photoelectrode Characterization with High Spatial and Temporal Resolution.” Energy & Environmental Science. vol. 8, 2863-2885, (2015).
  • D.V. Esposito and V. Alt. “Estimating solar energy requirements to meet U.S. energy needs: an outreach event”, NCSL International Workshop & Symposium Proceedings, 2014.  
  • D.V. Esposito, I. Levin, T.P. Moffat, and A.A. Talin. “Hydrogen Evolution at Si-based Metal-Insulator-Semiconductor Photoelectrodes Enhanced by Inversion Channel Charge Collection and Hydrogen Spillover.” Nature Materials, vol. 12, 562-568 (2013). 

In one hour, enough energy strikes the earth in the form of sunlight to fulfill all of mankind’s energy needs for an entire year.

Daniel Esposito