Zakya H. Kafafi

Adjunct Professor
Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Packard Lab
19 Memorial Drive West
Bethlehem, PA 18015


Dr. Kafafi received her B.S. (cum laude) from University of Houston with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics. Three years later she got her M.A. and Ph.D. in Chemistry from Rice University. She then crossed the Atlantic Ocean and moved to Cairo where she pursued her academic career as an Assistant Professor for a few years before returning back to Houston on a sabbatical leave as a Visiting Professor at Rice University.

Dr. Kafafi then decided to combine her chemical expertise and training with research in optics, and joined the Optical Sciences Division at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC where she established and led an interdisciplinary research team, and a section on Organic Optoelectronics. Her work has been motivated by newly emerging technologies based on organic electronics and photonics, spanning a wide spectrum of disciplines including the chemistry and physics of organic and nanostructured materials, organic nonlinear optics, light-emitting materials and devices, and photovoltaics.

While at NRL, Dr. Kafafi was one of the founders of the Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Network and launched a successful mentor program for which she won the NRL Commanding Officer’s Award “for achievements in the field of equal employment opportunity and the creation of a mentor program for scientists and engineers.”

In 2007, Dr. Kafafi joined the National Science Foundation as the Director of the Division of Materials Research (DMR). She was the first woman to lead the largest and unarguably the most complex Division in the Mathematical and Physical Sciences Directorate. During her tenure in DMR, Dr. Kafafi managed a budget portfolio close to one billion dollar, and oversaw the funding of single and group investigators, interdisciplinary research teams and centers, instrumentation and major facilities. In 2011, she took a sabbatical leave and was a Visiting Scholar/Professor in the Departments of Electrical & Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania and, Chemistry and Material Sciences & Engineering at Northwestern working with the groups of Professor Chérie Kagan and Tobin Marks, respectively.

Dr. Kafafi is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Photonics for Energy and is the Inaugural Deputy Editor for Chemical, Physical, Materials, Mathematical Sciences and Engineering of the recently launched online, open access journal, part of AAAS Science family journals, called Science Advances. Dr. Kafafi serves on the Advisory Board of IEEE Photonics, the MRS Award Nomination Task Force and the Conference on “Spin in Organic Semiconductors” (SPINOS). She chairs the annual SPIE Symposium on Organic Photonics and Electronics, and the Conference on Organic Photovoltaics. She is a member of the American Chemical Society and Sigma Xi. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Materials Research Society, the Optical Society of America, and the International Society for Optics and Photonics.

Dr. Kafafi has been an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Lehigh University since 2008.

Selected Recent Publications

Zakya H. Kafafi, Ana Flávia Nogueira, Deirdre M. O’Carroll, Raúl J. Martín-Palma, Jeremy J. Pietron, Ifor D.W. Samuel, Franky So, Nelson Tansu, and Loucas Tsakalakos, “The Role of Photonics in Energy,” J. Photon. Energy Volume 5(1), 050997 (2015).

Beibei Zeng, Zakya H. Kafafi, and Filbert J. Bartoli, “Transparent Electrodes based on Two-Dimension Ag Nanogrids and Double One-Dimensional Ag Nanogratings for Organic Photovoltaics,” J. Photon. Energy, Volume 5(1), 057005 (2015).

Zakya H. Kafafi, Paul A. Lane, and Ifor D.W. Samuel, “Organic Photovoltaics XVI,” Editors, Proc. SPIE 9567 (2015).

Kai Liu, Beibei Zeng, Haoming Song, Qiaoqiang Gan, Filbert J. Bartoli, and Zakya H. Kafafi, “Super Absorption of Ultra-thin Organic Photovoltaic Films,” Invited Paper Opt. Comm. 314, 48 (2014).

Qiaoqiang Gan, Filbert J. Bartoli, and Zakya H. Kafafi, “Plasmonic-Enhanced Organic Photovoltaics: Breaking the 10% Efficiency Barrier,” Adv. Mater. 25, 2385 (2013).

Beibei Zeng, Qiaoqiang Gan, Zakya H. Kafafi, and Filbert J. Bartoli, “Polymeric Photovoltaics with Various Metallic Plasmonic Nanostructures,” J. Appl. Phys. 113, 063109 (2013).