ISN Bill Peters
Bill Peters


Dr. William A. (Bill) Peters

Executive Director, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, MIT

BSc, McGill (Honors Chemistry)
PhD, MIT (Physical Chemistry)
Post-doctoral, Yale (Physical Chemistry)

Bill Peters is an experienced university research executive.  He has been a leader in helping MIT develop, market to external sponsors, and manage: research centers on Health Effects of Fuels Utilization (NIEHS Center); Air Toxics (EPA Center); Chemical Demilitarization (ARO University Research Initiative); and Nanotechnology for Soldier Protection and Survivability (the ISN); and individual research projects in support of clean fuels production, combustion and extractive metallurgy (DOE; foundations; industry; NSF).  His research, roughly 70 refereed publications including 6 issued U.S. patents, provides new scientific and engineering understanding of: thermal conversion of biomass, coal, natural gas, and pyrolysis liquids; production of light metals from oxide ores using arc discharge plasmas; thermal cleanup of soils and wastes; and nano and micro length-scale effects in latent heat transfer.  He has co-authored a major textbook on sustainable energy adopted at over 75 universities.

For over 25 years Dr. Peters held increasingly responsible research and research management positions at MIT including Associate Director for Fuels and Environmental Research in the MIT Energy Laboratory. In 2002, MIT appointed Dr. Peters Executive Director (Chief Operating Officer) of a new U.S. Army-funded UARC (University Affiliated Research Center), the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. The ISN mission is to dramatically advance Soldier protection and survivability through basic research at the frontiers of nanotechnology and transitioning promising outcomes of that research in collaboration with U.S. Army and industrial partners. Dr. Peters is a member of the senior leadership team responsible for ISN tactical and strategic planning; engaging new faculty; nucleation, scientific and programmatic integration, and marketing of new research initiatives; technology transfer; and partnering with the Army, other U.S. military services and industry.

Dr. Peters oversees ISN operations in Finance, Administration and Personnel; Outreach and Communications; Wet and Dry Laboratory Facilities; an annual Engineering Design/Prototype Building Competition for MIT Students and USMA Cadets; ISN Headquarters; ISN Professional Research Staff; and ISN liaison with the DOD UARC and FFRDC communities, and with MIT Offices for Research Contracting, Corporate Relations, Human Resources, Intellectual Property and Technology Licensing.  Dr. Peters’ intramural service includes The MIT Committee to Evaluate the Innovation Deficit, The MIT DOD Engagement Group, and The MIT.nano Governance Committee.

Dr. Peters’ extramural service includes identification and assessment of S&T for energy, environmental, and U.S. defense applications. He has contributed to war games and workshops and has briefed numerous civilian and uniformed U.S. defense personnel, e.g. members of the Army Science Board, the Board on Army Science and Technology, the Army Chief of Staff Strategic Studies Group, the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Groups, the Naval Underwater Warfare Center, the Naval Research Advisory Committee: Lightening the Load – Summer Study 2007; the Air Force Research Laboratory Workshop on Readiness and Performance Optimizing the 21st Century Warfighter; the Air Force Research Laboratory NanoScience and Technology Team; and the Chief Scientist of the Air Force. He co-chaired the Long-Range Options and Systems/Operations Task Group of the Naval Studies Board Committee on Shipboard Pollution Control, and served on the Panel on Transform the Institutional Army at the 2000 AUSA Symposium on the Revolution in Military Logistics and Combat Service Support Transformation.


Dr. Peters’ research interests include:

  • •      Scalable thermal and plasma-thermal process chemistries for production of metals and clean fuels, e.g. hydrogen and light liquids from biomass, coal, heavy oil, natural gas; see Peters et al., U.S. Patent 7,494,637, (2009);
  • •      Effects of stochastic processes and tiny length-scales (nano, micro) on chemical, physical, and stability phenomena in closable systems, e.g. latent heat transmission and water vapor diffusion in porous barriers; see Traum et al., J. Heat Transfer, 130, 042403-1 to 042403-11, (2008); Nanoscale and Microscale Thermophysical Engineering, 15, 123-131, (2011);
  • •      Sustainable energy for commercial and U.S. defense needs; see Tester, Drake, Driscoll, Golay, Peters, Sustainable Energy Choosing Among Options, 870 pages, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA (2005); Second Edition, 1049 pages, (2012);
  • •      Discovery and transitioning of novel science and technology to inform hierarchical U.S. defense planning and provide the U.S. with unprecedented capabilities and affordable dominance across all domains; see Joannopoulos and Peters, “Defense Technology”, in M.A. Kastner et al., The Future Postponed Why Declining Investment in Basic Research Threatens a U.S. Innovation Deficit, A Report by the MIT Committee to Evaluate the Innovation Deficit, (2015).