News Release: Sustainability

Feb. 27,  2009

Alternative Energy Takes Limelight March 2

Scholars from throughout the region will gather at Emory University March 2 to learn more about ongoing research at Emory and around the nation to find new and better ways to power the planet.

The Emerson Center Lectureship Award Symposium will focus on "Computation and Energy: Search for Renewable and Sustainable Energy" and begins with a keynote by Daniel Nocera of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. An internationally respected expert in chemical energy conversion, Nocera will give an overview of the growing energy crisis and discuss the potential for artificial photosynthesis and other emerging technologies.

"The need for sustainable energy eclipses all of the other scientific challenges we face," says Kurt Warncke, chair of physics and head of the selection committee for the lectureship. The rising human population – combined with rising standards of living in the developing world – intensifies the urgency for finding solutions, he says.

"Emory is positioned to become a leader in the interdisciplinary search for solar-based alternative energy," says Jamal Masaev, principal scientist and director of Emory's Cherry L. Emerson Center for Scientific Computation. "That is one of several multi-disciplinary, cutting-edge research projects actively promoted by the Emerson Center. We want this symposium to highlight our efforts, while opening the idea of energy research to the whole Emory community, and scholars throughout the region."

Emerson Center Drives Research for Alternative Energy

The Emerson Center provides state-of-the-art computational facilities and expertise, designed to propel scientific collaborations on campus, as well as with other institutions. Since its founding in 1991, the center has hosted 147 visiting scholars from 36 countries.

Currently, the Emerson Center is helping drive Emory research into a solar-energy driven water oxidation process, involving leading scholars from physics, chemistry, biology, computational sciences and materials science. The eventual goal is to design a device that uses molecular catalysts, quantum dots and solar energy to split water into oxygen and hydrogen molecules and converts carbon dioxide into fuel.

"We're trying to solve the problem of renewable energy at a molecular level," Warncke says. "We are using computational approaches to more quickly survey all the possible approaches and to guide our experimentation."

Craig Hill, Goodrich C. White Professor of Inorganic Chemistry, is heading up the Emory project, and will discuss the ongoing research during his talk at the symposium. Other featured speakers include David Beratan, a chemist at Duke University, and Jean-Luc Bredas and David Sholl, who are both from the Georgia Institute of Technology's School of Chemical and Bio-molecular Engineering.

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