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Jenny Yang


  • CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020
  • Bio-inspired Solar Energy




Solar energy is an abundant resource with the potential to sustainably power human civilization. However, it is also intermittent and generated in a transient form – electricity.

In contrast, the majority of our current energy infrastructure relies on chemical fuels such as petroleum, coal, and natural gas. Seamless integration of solar energy for societal use requires efficient conversion of electricity into chemical fuels. The conversion of radiant energy into chemical fuels is already carried out in nature on a grand scale through photosynthesis.

Jenny Yang’s research program focuses on several issues important to the realization of artificial photosynthesis to enable a renewable and carbon-neutral energy infrastructure. A primary goal is the development of efficient, selective, and economical catalysts that can reduce feedstocks such as H2O and CO2 directly into chemical fuels using solar electricity. To achieve this, the Yang lab pursues a cross-disciplinary approach using methodology and insight from enzymes to solid-state catalysts in order to gain a global understanding of energy-efficient reaction pathways in fuel-forming reactions. Their comprehensive approach establishes guidelines for the rational design of new high-performance fuel forming catalysts.

Yang’s group has also invented a facile and modular method of integrating electrocatalysts to photovoltaic surfaces, resulting in new materials for photoelectrochemical cells (PECs). Their methodology has the potential to facilitate the rapid generation of electrode materials for direct sunlight-to-fuels production.


  • Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE)
  • Sloan Fellow
  • Hellman Fellow
  • DOE Early Career Award
  • NSF CAREER Award

Relevant Publications

  • Tsay, C., & Yang, J. Y. (2016). Electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution under acidic aqueous conditions and mechanistic studies of a highly stable molecular catalyst. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 138(43), 14174-14177.
  • Kotyk, J. F. K., Hanna, C. M., Combs, R. L., Ziller, J. W., & Yang, J. Y. (2018). Intramolecular hydrogen-bonding in a cobalt aqua complex and electrochemical water oxidation activity. Chemical science, 9(10), 2750-2755.
  • Ceballos, B. M., Tsay, C., & Yang, J. Y. (2017). CO 2 reduction or HCO 2− oxidation? Solvent-dependent thermochemistry of a nickel hydride complex. Chemical Communications, 53(53), 7405-7408.
  • Hanna, C. M., Sanborn, C. D., Ardo, S., & Yang, J. Y. (2018). Interfacial Electron Transfer of Ferrocene Immobilized onto Indium Tin Oxide through Covalent and Noncovalent Interactions. ACS applied materials & interfaces, 10(15), 13211-13217.
  • Tsay, C., Livesay, B. N., Ruelas, S., & Yang, J. Y. (2015). Solvation effects on transition metal hydricity. Journal of the American Chemical Society, 137(44), 14114-14121.

Support Us

CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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