Venkat Viswanathan is an associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. Viswanathan’s research focus is on identifying the scientific principles governing material design, inorganic, organic, and biomaterials, for novel energy conversion and storage routes. The material design is carried out through a suite of computational methods being developed in his group, and validated by experiments. Some key research thrusts include identifying principles of electrolytes design (organic material) that can tune electrode catalysis, identification of new anode, cathode (inorganic materials), and electrolyte materials for next generation batteries, and new electrocatalysts (inorganic) and biomaterials for energy storage and separation applications. In addition to material design, his group is involved in several cross-cutting areas such as battery controls, electric vehicle security, and GPU accelerated computing.

Viswanathan received the Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award in 2019, Sloan Research Fellowship in Chemistry in 2018, the National Science Foundation CAREER award in 2016, the American Chemical Society PRF Young Investigator Award in 2014, and the Electrochemical Society Daniel Cubicciotti Award in 2010. He was a finalist for MIT TR Innovators Under 35 in 2014, and was an Electrochemical Society Herbert H. Uhligh Summer Fellow in 2009.

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Venkat Viswanathan
Venkat Viswanathan’s Website

Energy Density in Batteries: Accelerating the Timeline

Electrolyte Technology: Batteries for Electric Vehicles


2013 Ph.D., Mechanical Engineering, Stanford University

2008 BS, Mechanical Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Media mentions

The Conversation

Viswanathan published on electric vehicle batteries

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan and Ph.D. students Alexander Bills and Shashank Sripad published an article in The Conversation on their electric vehicle battery research.


Viswanathan on autonomous, electric cars

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan spoke with Bloomberg about the current debate between the two most prominent technologies in the car industry: autonomous driving and electric cars. “We’re getting to a point where we won’t need to choose between autonomous driving and electric cars,” he said.

CMU Engineering

The electric future of autonomous vehicles

A team of CMU Engineering researchers has shown that autonomous vehicles can be electric—despite the decreased driving range.

Mechanical Engineering

Viswanathan establishes battery design rules

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan established design rules for how solid-ion conductors suppress dendrites.

Mechanical Engineering

Solid-ion conductors for safer batteries

Venkat Viswanathan and collaborators at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory investigate how a solid-ion conductor – a component that can be used as a separator between the anode and the electrolyte in a battery – can prevent dendrites.

CMU Engineering

Producing hydrogen peroxide when, and where, it’s needed

Does a material exist that can be used to selectively, reliably, and efficiently form hydrogen peroxide whenever and wherever it’s needed?

Zhang places in CAST competition

MSE’s Yumin Zhang won third place in the CAST Innovation & Entrepreneurship Competition at the 2019 Global Innovation Summit, which took place on October 11-13 in Pittsburgh.

The Driven

Viswanathan quoted about electric airplane challenges

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan and his colleagues were quoted by The Driven about the challenges of electric airplanes.

Axios Future

Viswanathan predicts that electric pickups should hit primetime soon

MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan predicts that electric pickups “should hit primetime over the next couple of years” now that battery costs have plunged.

CMU Engineering

Viswanathan receives Navy award for battery research

Venkat Viswanathan received a 2019 Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research to research how to improve battery safety in low temperatures.


Viswanathan discusses future of electric planes

A battery-powered plane would be quieter, cheaper, and cleaner than the current options. But for it to be feasible, batteries would need to be safer, pack in more energy, and discharge energy more quickly. MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan says that the kind of technological leap needed for an all-electric commercial plane will likely take decades.


Viswanathan on Audi e-tron battery

In a Quartz article, MechE’s Venkat Viswanathan discussed the discrepancy between the large battery size but low range of Audi’s first all-electric car, the new e-tron. According to Viswanathan’s calculations, “Something doesn’t add up.” He notes that because the e-tron is Audi’s first electric car, the company may be playing it safe while playing catch up to Tesla, who have had a head start in improving battery efficiency.