Graduate Student Highlight: Hammad Cheema


Graduate Student Highlight

Name:  Hammad A. Cheema

Degree Program:  PhD Fiber and Polymer Science, minor in Chemistry

Advisor(s):  Dr. Ahmed El-Shafei

Degrees you have: 
MS Textile Chemistry – North Carolina State University, Raleigh

Where are you from:  Sialkot (Punjab) Pakistan

What your town/country is like: Sialkot is a mid-size city with very old history. It is an industrial city popular for sports goods, leather products and surgical instruments. It is particularly popular for hand stitched soccer balls, which have been used in soccer world cups.

Why did you decide to pursue your degree at NC State University? Being the best college for textile, fiber and polymer related studies; NC State University was the first choice to come for graduate school.


Give a short description of your research:  My graduate work is focused on “Molecular Engineering, Synthesis and Characterizations of Novel Dyes for Highly Efficient Dye-sensitized Solar Cells”. These sensitizers are dyes in nature which absorb photons from sunlight and convert them to electricity by producing useful electrons. Then these electrons can be extracted to do useful work such as charging a smart phone, laptop, display signs and even providing electricity to homes.

How does your research impact the world? Dye-sensitized Solar Cells can be the next generation of solar cells to provide the renewable energy in sustainable way, without harming the nature. Dye-based solar cells are easy to make, cheaper, versatile and perform better than silicon based solar cells in diffused light conditions and year around weathering conditions. We have made dyes which perform better than the benchmark dyes. We have designed novel dyes which we believe will perform even better. Thus we are hoping that these dyes will play a crucial role in the wide spread use of dye-based solar cells in the near future and ultimately will result in making this world a better place to live.

Have you published your work yet and/or received any awards?  If you have published, please provide the citation and an abstract appropriate at the high school science level:

My master degree works has been featured in the prestigious journal of “Carbohydrate Polymers”!
In this work two novel monomers have been reported which successfully made the cotton self-extinguishing. Once these chemicals are applied to cotton fabric it resists any kind of fire and flame to spread. Such materials have wide spread use in home textiles, fire safety worker uniforms and other niche applications where resistance against fire is crucial.
I am currently writing manuscripts to publish my PhD work on dyes for solar cells.


  • Fulbright Scholar (2009-2011)
  • Certificate of Accomplishments in Teaching (CoAT), 2012, NC State University

What is your favorite thing about TECS / NC State? TECS is a very versatile program. It is a perfect combination of art and sciences. All the faculty members are involved in cutting edge research of their interest. In that way it offers a great opportunity for new students to learn and work in projects of their interest. In addition to that TECS and NC State provide the opportunity to work in collaboration with other departments. That comes very handy when you have to do any kind of specific analysis out of your lab. Being the Research One University, NC State offers the whole range of equipment and tools to carry out the research without any hassle. Faculty members and the staff are very supportive which let you focus on important things.


Who has influenced you most during your research here and how? My advisor Dr. Ahmed El-Shafei has influenced me most in my approach to see at molecular systems and in understanding the structure-property relationship of materials. During my graduate experience of four years he has been always very supportive and motivating. His feedback has been always encouraging. In addition to that I really enjoyed and learned a lot from the courses taught by Dr. Alan Tonelli on morphology and microstructure of polymers.

What do you find most exciting about your field of study? Well-being of the environment we live in by developing efficient, sustainable and renewable energy resources is the ultimate goal of our research. This will ensure a healthy environment for future generations which is very satisfying. Additionally, I love working with molecular systems which allow me to manipulate their structure related properties. I really enjoy targeted molecular design and synthesis.