Unni Pillai

Unni Pillai

Associate Professor
College of Nanotechnology, Science, and Engineering
Department of Nanoscale Science & Engineering


NanoFab East 4309

PhD Economics, University of Minnesota, 2008
MSc Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science, 2003
BSc Economics, University of London, 2001
B.Tech Electrical Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, 1998

Unni Pillai

Research Areas
  • Economics of Technological Change
  • Macroeconomics


Dr Pillai's research focuses on the economic drivers of technological change. Technical advances in high tech industries are important contributors to productivity growth in the macroeconomy and to improvements in the standard of living. Dr. Pillai studies how economic factors influence the rate at which these technical advances are made, how government policies can influence the rate of technical change, and the welfare impact of these policies. Dr. Pillai's work includes theoretical modeling, econometric estimation of model parameters, and use of estimated models to quantitatively understand the impact of government policies.


Drivers of Cost Reduction in Solar Photovoltaics, Unni Pillai, Energy Economics (50), 2015, pp 286-293.

R&D Opportunities, Vertical Specialization and the Extent of the Market, Unni Pillai, Submitted, 2015.

Emergence of the Supply Chain: Origins of the Tools Suppliers in the Semiconductor Industry, Unni Pillai, Submitted, 2015.

Nanomanufacturing: Application of Nanotechnology in Manufacturing Industries, Maseeh Mukhtar and Unni Pillai, Nanotechnology Law and Business, 2015, Vol 12, No. 1.

Competition among Solar Contractors in California, Unni Pillai, Proceedings of the 2014 Fall Symposium Series of Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, 2014. Arlington, VA. AAAI Press.

Input Price and Industry Concentration in a Cournot Oligopoly, Unni Pillai, Economics Bulletin, 2014, Vol. 34, No.3, pp.1704-1713.

A Model of Technological Progress in Microprocessor Industry, Unni Pillai, Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 61, No. 5 (December 2013), 877-912.

A Model of Competition in the Solar Panel Industry, Unni Pillai and Jamison McLaughlin, Energy Economics, Vol. 40, November 2013, 32-39.

Venture Capital Investment into Thin Film Solar Photovoltaics – Where is it going and why?, Nicholas Querques, Pradeep Haldar and Unni Pillai, Journal of Nanotechnology Law and Business, Vol.6, No.3, 408-414.

Other Publications

Comment : Productivity and Potential Output Before, During and After the Great Recession”, Samuel Kortum and Unni Pillai, National Bureau of Economic Research, Macroeconomics Annual, 2014, vol. 29.

The Value of Microprocessor Designs, Ana Aizcorbe, Samuel Kortum and Unni Pillai, Communications of the ACM, February 2013, vol 56, issue 2, 31-32.

Technological Progress in the Microprocessor Industry, Unni Pillai, Survey of Current Business, February 2011, 13-15.

The U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium – Lessons from the Semiconductor Industry, Unni Pillai, Nicholas Querques and Pradeep Haldar, InterPV, Jan 2011.

Vertical Specialization and the Role of Consortia in the Solar Photovoltaic Industry, Pradeep Haldar and Unni Pillai, Future Photovoltaics, 2012, vol 8.

The New York Solar Roadmap 2.0, Unni Pillai, Pradeep Haldar and Richard Perez.

Investment in Transmission for Wind Farm Interconnection, Unni Pillai, Evsen Turkay and Pradeep Haldar, Industry Studies Association Conference, Pittsburgh, 2011.