Technology Review has named William Chueh, an assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering, to its annual TR35 list honoring the year’s top young innovators.

Chueh was honored for developing a technology of using heat that is otherwise wasted to boost the efficiency of solar fuel production. Most current approaches to solar energy rely on rely on the photovoltaic effect, first converting light to electricity and then to fuel.

By contrast, Chueh’s method uses heat from concentrated sunlight to convert water intro hydrogen or water and carbon dioxide into methane – fuels that can be stored and transported. Increased chemical reaction rates at elevated temperatures enhance the solar-to-fuel conversion efficiency significantly.

The TR35 recognizes the world’s top innovators under the age of 35, spanning biotechnology, computer and electronics hardware and software, energy, the Web, and nanotechnology, among other emerging fields.

Chueh, who joined Stanford in June, was selected as a member of the 2012 TR35 by a panel of expert judges and the editorial staff of Technology Review, who evaluated more than 250 nominations. He will join other TR35 honorees in discussing their achievements at the EmTech MIT 2012 conference, taking place at the MIT Media Lab in Cambridge October 24-26, 2012. The winners will also be featured the September/October issue of Technology Review and online at

“I’m delighted and proud to be honored by Technology Review for my research,” Chueh said. He said he is expanding on his earlier research by exploring new materials that will allow him to use both the photovoltaic effect and heat to generate fuel. By combining the two, Chueh hopes to achieve even greater sunlight to fuel conversion efficiency.

“This year’s TR35 recipients are applying technology to some our generation’s greatest challenges, and innovating to improve the way we live and work,” said Jason Pontin, editor-in-chief and publisher of Technology Review. “We look forward to watching these young technology leaders grow and advance over the coming years.”

Chueh is the second consecutive TR35 winner from the Materials Science and Engineering Department. Materials Science Assistant Professor Jennifer Dionne was one of two Stanford Engineering honorees in 2011.

Chueh, a Center Fellow at Stanford’s Precourt Institute of Energy, has been a Distinguished Truman Fellow at Sandia National Laboratories and won numerous honors including the Caltech Demetriades-Tsafka-Kokkalis Prize in Energy (2012), the Josephine de Karman Fellowship (2009), and the American Ceramics Society Diamond Award (2008). He has his BS in Applied Physics and MS and PhD in Materials Science, all from Caltech.

Jamie Beckett wrote this article for the Stanford School of Engineering.