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DE-SC0000989: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science

Award Status: Active
  • Institution: Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • DUNS: 160079455
  • Most Recent Award Date: 09/29/2022
  • Number of Support Periods: 10
  • PM: Roizen, Jennifer
  • Current Budget Period: 08/01/2022 - 07/31/2024
  • Current Project Period: 08/01/2022 - 07/31/2024
  • PI: Stupp, Samuel
  • Supplement Budget Period: N/A

Public Abstract

Project Summary/Abstract

Lead Institution: Northwestern University

Energy Frontier Research Center Title: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES)

EFRC Director: Samuel I. Stupp, Departments of Materials Science & Engineering, Chemistry, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University.

Key Investigators: Kyle Bishop, Department of Chemical Engineering, Columbia University; Chad A. Mirkin, Departments of Chemistry and Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University; Monica Olvera de la Cruz, Departments of Materials Science and Engineering and Chemistry, Northwestern University; and George C. Schatz, Department of Chemistry, Northwestern University.

The goal of the EFRC on Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES) is to create and understand materials and systems inspired by biology, seeking to innovate on energy utilization and its environmental implications. To face energy challenges, the CBES team is interested in learning how to utilize synthetic matter far from equilibrium and in hierarchical structures, which are essential features of living systems. Our vision is that artificial systems inspired by living ones could lead us to transformative pathways to utilize and interconvert renewable energy. Our vision is that basic science research in this area can lead to artificial materials that rival living ones in the remarkable and useful ways they manage energy. Our proposed research program specifically tackles the next big challenge in synthetic design of soft materials, namely learning how to encode in them molecularly the ability to transduce energy forms and even move autonomously in ways that are characteristic of “living matter”. We approach this enormous bio-inspired challenge through chemical design and synthesis combined with engineering strategies to create novel functional systems. The goal is to develop through basic science new opportunities around the concept of “robotic soft matter”, denoting its autonomous ability to rapidly perform mechanical, optical, or chemical tasks with only small inputs of electrical energy and without the use of complex hardware. Equally important is learning to create “photosynthetic matter”, which requires systems structured holistically to enable efficient chemical production using visible light. Our targets to create robotic and photosynthetic soft matter are extremely relevant to future modalities in manufacturing and chemical production, two of the greatest users of energy.

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