Nanotechnology is vital to the maintenance of a sustainable environment for future generations. Our diverse teams are meeting the grand challenges of today and anticipating problems before they arise. Aligned with the UCLA’s Sustainable LA Grand Challenge, CNSI members have taken lead positions in the development of more efficient, cost-effective nanomaterials and devices that generate, store, and conserve energy as well as strategies to remediate emissions from industrial processes and pollutants in the air, water and land.
Tremendous advances in solar energy harvesting have been enabled by the recent development of cost-effective photovoltaics. Teams of CNSI researchers are producing high-performance photovoltaic devices with world record power conversion efficiencies through the design, synthesis and crystallographic engineering of new materials, including using polymers and hybrid perovskites. The Nano Renewable Energy Center at CNSI, led by Yang Yang, has taken a world-leading role in elucidating the design principles for next-generation energy solutions that will undoubtedly make solar energy a sustainable energy resource for the future.
Nano Environmental Health + Safety
Efforts to ensure the responsible and safe implementation of nanotechnology in the environment at CNSI are led by the UC Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEIN) through the development of environmental decision making tools that consider the importance of engineered nanomaterial physicochemical properties in determining environmental fate, transport, exposure, and hazard generation across a wide spectrum of nano/bio interfaces in cells, bacteria, organisms, communities and ecosystems.
Harvesting power from sustainable sources is only part of the renewable energy equation. Of equal importance is our ability to store energy for on-demand use. Through a research program focused on electrochemical materials and devices, CNSI scientists like Ric Kaner and Bruce Dunn are leading teams developing novel energy storage devices. Supercapacitors are an exciting class of materials that combines the energy density of batteries with the power density and rapid charge/discharge rates of traditional capacitors. Similarly, advances in the production of three-dimensional batteries provides a means to overcome the low energy density limitations of traditional batteries.
Satisfying the world’s need for clean water for drinking, irrigation, and recreational use is an emerging challenge for our world and removing pollutants from water can be very costly and time-consuming. Recent efforts to leverage the enzymatic activities of naturally occurring bacteria and fungi, which break down pollutants into their harmless chemical components, risks releasing dangerous organisms into the water. An interdisciplinary team at CNSI led by Dr. Shaily Mahendra and Dr. Leonard Rome has discovered a new approach to water purification that uses enzymes encased in vault nanoparticles. This technique is cost-effective, energy-efficient and able to simultaneously remove multiple pollutants while minimizing risks to public health and the environment.
The search for ways to reduce CO2 emissions is a grand challenge of our time. Gaurav Sant leads an effort to make industrial pollution part of the solution by developing a sustainable, carbon dioxide-neutral concrete for infrastructure construction applications. CO2NCRETE, which doesn’t release carbon dioxide but rather uses the types of carbon released by power plant smokestacks, aims to rationalize the use of natural resources in construction, promote environmental protection and to advance the cause of ecological responsibility in the concrete construction industry.
Research News – Renewable Energy
A study by members of the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA reveals a fundamental discovery that could lead to safer lithium-metal batteries that outperform today’s lithium-ion batteries. The research was published today in the journal Nature.
Metallic lithium reacts so easily with chemicals that, under normal conditions, corrosion forms almost immediately while the metal is being laid down on a surface such as an electrode.
Now an associate professor of integrative biology and physiology and the holder of UCLA’s Marcie H. Rothman Presidential Chair in Food Studies, CNSI member Amy Rowat has spiced up both her pedagogy and her research with her gastronomic interests. She is founding...
August 18, 2021 | CNSI awards Noble Family Innovation Fund grants to 10 UCLA nanoscience research teams
A new UCLA fund for high-risk, high-reward interdisciplinary investigations has awarded its first set of grants. The Noble Family Innovation Fund, established with a philanthropic commitment to the California NanoSystems Institute at UCLA totaling $10 million over...
A UCLA research team has proposed a pathway that could help extract billions of metric tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. Instead of directly capturing atmospheric carbon dioxide, the technology would extract it from seawater, enabling the seawater...
UCLA-led research shows efficient and inexpensive fuel-cells in sight Advance provides pathways for renewable energy and hydrogen-powered automobiles by UCLA Samueli Newsroom Graphic shows a proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) and the microenvironment details...
A new electrode material could make it possible to construct lithium-ion batteries with a high charging rate and storage capacity. If scaled up, the anode material developed by researchers at the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) and colleagues in...