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.

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.

AFFILIATED FACULTY:   Diana Huffaker    Yves Rubin    Benjamin Schwartz     Sarah Tolbert      Paul Weiss     Yang Yang

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.

AFFILIATED FACULTY:     Yoram Cohen     Robert Damoiseaux     Hilary Godwin     Shuo Lin     Andre Nel     Jeffrey Zink

Energy Storage

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.

AFFILIATED FACULTY:    Jane Chang     Bruce Dunn     George Gruner     Ric Kaner    Yufeng Lu


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.

AFFILIATED MEMBERS:    Leonard Rome     Shaily Mahendra     Eric Hoek


The search for ways to reduce COemissions 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.



AFFILIATED MEMBERS:    Gaurav Sant     Laurent Pilon


Research News – Renewable Energy