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Bio-inspired Solar Energy

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What can nature teach us about using energy from the sun?

Humans consume one trillion watts of energy annually, and the amount will double by 2050. The fossil fuels that we use to generate most of that energy contribute to global warming, making it vital that we develop renewable energy. This includes finding better ways of generating and storing energy from the Sun.

Fortunately, Nature has lessons to teach us. The process of photosynthesis, which plants use to turn the Sun’s energy into fuel, has been optimized over billions of years of evolution. CIFAR’s Bio-inspired Solar Energy program examines the lessons of photosynthetic organisms to create better ways of harvesting light energy, of transporting it, and of storing it.

The program brings together researchers from across disciplines to work on questions that could lead to more efficient solar panels, better batteries, new green fuels, and other technologies that will feed the world’s need for energy without contributing to climate change.

Path to Societal Impact

We invite experts in industry, civil society, healthcare and government to join fellows in our Bio-Inspired Solar Energy program for in-depth, cross-sectoral conversations that drive change and innovation.

Experts from industry and government laboratories and CIFAR fellows in the Bio-Inspired Solar Energy program are developing highly efficient carbon dioxide electrolyzers that can mitigate climate change.

Areas of focus:

  • Understanding the chemical processes and equipment needed to generate feedstock chemicals from carbon dioxide
  • Developing highly efficient, stable, and scalable carbon dioxide electrolyzers 

Contact: Fiona Cunningham, Director of Innovation

Founded

2014

Renewal Dates

2020

Supporters

Arthur J.E. Child Foundation, Chisholm Thomson Family Foundation, Gerald Heffernan, Ivey Foundation, Max Bell Foundation, The George Cedric Metcalf Charitable Foundation

Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Chemistry
Materials Science
Biophysics
Physics
Engineering
Biology
Data Science
Biochemistry
Machine Learning
Robotics

CIFAR Contact

Daniel Bacinello

Fellows & Advisors

Program Directors

Curtis P. Berlinguette

Program Co-Director

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of British Columbia
Canada

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen

Associate Program Director
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Gregory Scholes

Program Co-Director

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Princeton University
United States
Fellows

Alán Aspuru-Guzik

Canada CIFAR AI Chair
Lebovic Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of Toronto
Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence
Canada

Christopher J. Chang

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of California Berkeley
United States

Catherine L. Drennan

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Rienk van Grondelle

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Sharon Hammes-Schiffer

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Yale University
United States

Thomas Mallouk

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Pennsylvania State University
United States

Aleksandra Vojvodic

Fellow

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of Pennsylvania
United States
Advisors

Fraser Armstrong

Advisor

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Oxford University
United Kingdom

Richard Cogdell

Advisory Committee Chair

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Glasgow University
United Kingdom

Osamu Ishitani

Advisor

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Tokyo Institute of Technology
Japan

Shaffiq Jaffer

Advisor

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Total American Services
United States

Vivian Wing-Wah Yam

Advisor

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars

Nathaniel Gabor

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2017-2019

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of California Riverside
United States

Ximin He

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of California Los Angeles
United States

Prineha Narang

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Harvard University
United States

Gabriela Schlau-Cohen

Associate Program Director
CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Yogesh Surendranath

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
United States

Haotian Wang

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2019-2021

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Rice University
United States

Jeffrey J. Warren

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2016-2018

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
Simon Fraser University
Canada

Jenny Yang

CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar 2018-2020

Bio-inspired Solar Energy
University of California Irvine
United States

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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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