Volker Blum


Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science

Volker Blum heads the "Ab initio materials simulations" group at Duke University. Dr. Blum's research focuses on "first-principles" computational materials science: using the fundamental laws of quantum mechanics to predict the properties of real materials from the atomic scale on upwards.

Specific focus areas are interface and nanoscale systems with electronic and energy applications, as well as work on molecular structure and spectroscopy. Recent research topics include structure and properties of graphene on the semiconducting substrate, SiC; structure and electronic properties of new materials for photovoltaics; organic-inorganic hybrid materials; carbon-nitride materials for photocatalysis; and more.

Dr. Blum is the coordinator of a major computer package for computational materials and molecular science based on electronic structure theory, FHI-aims. Work in his group is interdisciplinary (touching areas of physics and chemistry in addition to materials science), with opportunities for international collaboration and exchange. Active collaborations include groups in Berlin, Munich, London, Hefei, and elsewhere.

Appointments and Affiliations

  • Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science
  • Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Associate Professor of Chemistry
  • Faculty Network Member of The Energy Initiative

Contact Information:


  • Ph.D. Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany), 2001

Awards, Honors, and Distinctions:

  • August-Wilhelm-Scheer Visiting Professorship. Technical University of Munich. 2016
  • Outstanding Referee of the Physical Review journals. APS. 2016
  • Staedtler Foundation Prize. Staedtler Foundation. 2002

Courses Taught:

  • CHEM 995: Graduate Training Internship
  • ME 221L: Structure and Properties of Solids
  • ME 491: Special Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 492: Special Projects in Mechanical Engineering
  • ME 555: Advanced Topics in Mechanical Engineering

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