Robert Berger , PhD

Associate Professor

Research Interests

My research group uses computation to understand and tune the relationships between the atomic structure and electronic properties of inorganic solids. Using a variety of first-principles and semi-empirical computational techniques, and viewing results through the lens of chemical intuition, we aim to design and optimize novel materials for energy applications. Currently, our primary interests are in perovskite photovoltaics and solar photocatalysts.

Educational & Professional Experience

  • B.A., Princeton University, 2005
  • Ph.D., Cornell University, 2009
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular Foundry, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2009 - 2013

Selected Awards & Honors

  • Cottrell Scholar Award, 2017
  • Peter J. Elich Excellence in Teaching Award, 2024

Recent Publications

WWU undergraduate student*, WWU master's student†

  • Berger, R.F.; Amacher, J.F. "Implementation of professional development initiatives in chemistry at a regional public university". ACS Symposium Series: Professional Mentoring Programs for Science Students (2024), eds. A.R. Urbach and P.J. Beuning, accepted for publication.
  • Urbach, A.R.; Berger, R.F.; Beuning, P.J.; Nevidomskyy, A.H. "COMPASS: Career and Occupational Mentoring for the Professional Advancement of Science Students". ACS Symposium Series: Professional Mentoring Programs for Science Students (2024), eds. A.R. Urbach and P.J. Beuning, accepted for publication.
  • Clover, A.W.†; Jones, A.P.*; Berger, R.F.; Kaminsky, W.; O'Neil, G.W. "Regioselective fluorohydrin synthesis from allylsilanes and evidence for a silicon-fluorine gauche effect". J. Org. Chem. (2024), in press. (Full text)
  • Baiz, C.R.; Berger, R.F.; Donald, K.J.; de Paula, J.C.; Fried, S.D.; Rubenstein, B.; Stokes, G.Y.; Takematsu, K.; Londergan, C. "Lowering Activation Barriers to Success in Physical Chemistry (LABSIP): A community project". J. Phys. Chem. A (2023), 128, 3-9. (Full text)
  • Anunobi, M.O.*; Berger, R.F. "Energetic stability and band-edge orbitals of layered inorganic perovskite compounds for solar energy applications". J. Phys. Chem. C (2023), 127, 20217-20225. (Full text)
  • Berger, R.F. "Electronic structure of oxide and halide perovskites". In Comprehensive Inorganic Chemistry III (2023), eds. J. Reedijk and K. Poeppelmeier, vol. 3, 4-25. (Abstract)
  • Teply, C.†; Tyler, B.A.†; Berger, R.F. "Tuning the band gaps of oxide and halide perovskite compounds via biaxial strain in all directions". J. Phys. Chem. C (2021), 125, 25951-25958. (Abstract)
  • Cirlincione, D.V.*; Berger, R.F. "Tuning the electronic structure of d0 perovskite oxides by combining distortive modes". Phys. Rev. B (2021), 103, 045127. (Abstract)
  • Steele, J.A.; Jin, H.; Dovgaliuk, I.; Berger, R.F.; Braeckevelt, T.; Yuan, H.; Martin, C.; Solano, E.; Lejaeghere, K.; Rogge, S.M.J.; Notebaert, C.; Vandezande, W.; Janssen, K.P.F.; Goderis, B.; Debroye, E.; Wang, Y.-K.; Dong, Y.; Ma, D.; Saidaminov, M.; Tan, H.; Lu, Z.; Dyadkin, V.; Chernyshov, D.; Van Speybroeck, V.; Sargent, E.H.; Hofkens, J.; Roeffaers, M.B.J. "Thermal unequilibrium of strained black CsPbI3 thin films". Science (2019), 365, 679-684. (Abstract)
  • McClarin, G.R.*; Berger, R.F. "Confluence of structural distortion and A-site composition in the band gaps of perovskite niobate and tantalate photocatalysts". Phys. Rev. B (2019), 100, 045202. (Abstract)
  • Grabill, L.P.†; Berger, R.F. "Calibrating the extended Hückel method to quantitatively screen the electronic properties of materials". Sci. Rep. (2018), 8, 10530. (Full text)
  • Berger, R.F. "Design principles for the atomic and electronic structure of halide perovskite photovoltaic materials: Insights from computation". Chem. Eur. J. (2018), 24, 8708-8716. (Abstract)
  • Gormley, E.L.*; Berger, R.F. "Binding maps for the study and prediction of bimetallic catalyst surface reactions: The case of methanol oxidation". Int. J. Quantum Chem. (2018), 118, 25606. (Abstract)
  • Tsui, K.Y.*; Onishi, N.*; Berger, R.F. "Tolerance factors revisited: Geometrically designing the ideal environment for perovskite dopants". J. Phys. Chem. C (2016), 120, 23293-23298. (Abstract)
  • Cheung, P.M.*; Berger, R.F.; Zakharov, L.N.; Gilbertson, J.D. "Square planar Cu(I) stabilized by a pyridinediimine ligand". Chem. Commun. (2016), 52, 4156-4159. (Abstract)
  • Grote, C.*; Berger, R.F. "Strain tuning of tin-halide and lead-halide perovskites: A first-principles atomic and electronic structure study". J. Phys. Chem. C (2015), 119, 22832-22837. (Abstract)
  • Delgado, M.*; Sommer, S.K.*; Swanson, S.P.*; Berger, R.F.; Seda, T.; Zakharov, L.N.; Gilbertson, J.D. "Probing the protonation state and the redox-active sites of pendant base iron(II) and zinc(II) pyridinediimine complexes". Inorg. Chem. (2015), 54, 7239-7248. (Abstract)
  • Grote, C.*; Ehrlich, B.*; Berger, R.F. "Tuning the near-gap electronic structure of tin-halide and lead-halide perovskites via changes in atomic layering". Phys. Rev. B (2014), 90, 205202. (Abstract)