Graduate Scholarships and Post-doctoral Fellowships Available

The materials chemistry research group encourages top-rank post doctoral fellows, both national and international, to apply for the elite Banting and Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarships to support their work in our group.

The applications can be found on the Banting and Vanier websites.

We also encourage Marie-Curie and Alexander von Humbolt fellows as well as other top rank international graduate and post-graduate scholars holding research fellowships to apply for positions in our group.

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UofT Solar Fuels Cluster

The U of T Solar Fuels Cluster is an interdisciplinary research team devoted to developing scalable, cost effective materials solutions towards using CO2 as a chemical feedstock for valuable products. Leveraging the expertise of some of Canada’s leading chemists, engineers, and material scientists, we hope to initiate a paradigm-shifting zero-emission CO2 economy.

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Absolute zero: A counter-intuitive energy transition

Net zero emissions by 2050 was a target set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to increase our changes of limiting global temperature rise to under 1.5 °C. But how feasible is this in practice? Absolute Zero, a recent report laid out by British researchers, argues that the 2050 target can only be achieved via large-scale implementation of tried and trusted technologies, such as solar, wind, and geothermal power. Newer, riskier approaches, such as those based on hydrogen, bioenergy, and carbon capture, will likely require longer than 30 years to develop, deploy, and scale, and therefore may not be suitable for meeting short-term emission targets.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Congratulations to Mireille Ghoussoub on winning 1st Place in the 3MT Competition at the WISE National Conference!

PhD Candidate Mireille Ghoussoub placed first in the Three Minute Thesis Competition at the Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) National Conference over the weekend. Her research focuses on merging experimental and computational characterization tools to study catalysts for converting carbon dioxide into methanol.
The WISE National Conference serves as a catalyst to inspire and empower individuals to pursue their passions, broaden their horizons, and form meaningful connections. The conference brings together delegates from all across Canada to share ideas and become inspired over the course of a two-day event dedicated to professional and personal growth, featuring inspirational leaders from a wide range of STEM fields, as well as workshops, case competitions, and career fairs.

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Financing net zero

Making financial policy a centerpiece for governments, businesses, and partnerships is a critical piece to achieving a net-zero economy. A challenge in this, however, is to build comprehensive transparency by all climate stakeholders on climate change, risk management, and investment to help companies deal with the financial stress associated with the potentially disruptive effects of a global energy transition.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Nano-silicon Samurai

In addition to being an important element in living organisms, silicon is by far the most widely used of all semiconductor materials. Most recently, however, nano-silicon has been demonstrated to be an attractive tool in the field of environmental remediation, specifically when it comes to cleaning up oil spills from underwater drilling and hydraulic fracking. Here, the notable advance is that surface-engineered porous nano-silicon sponges demonstrate a strong affinity for emulsified oil in seawater.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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A Fossil Fuel-Free Industrial Revolution

While coal combustion energized James Watt’s steam engine, it is seldom acknowledged that other sources of energy were also known at the time. As recently as the late 1800s, electricity could be generated for a myriad of applications through the use of waterwheels and windmills. The fact that these technologies were contemporaries of the now-dominant internal combustion engine suggests that non-fossil energy technologies were equally poised to become globally widespread. But could the technological revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries have happened without the use of fossil fuels and the rampant burning-down of forests?
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Congratulations to Dr. Pavani Cherukupally, Wei Sun and co-authors on your publication in Nature Sustainability

In their paper, “Surface-engineered sponges for recovery of crude oil microdroplets from wastewater”, Cherukupally and Sun et al. report an innovative surface engineered sponge that combines surface chemistry, pH-responsive surface charge, and micro-nano roughness that allows for upwards of 92% of crude oil to be adsorbed under ambient conditions. Their work constitutes a new framework for developing surface engineered sponges that addresses the variable pH-responsive wetting behaviour of crude oil and further demonstrates the environmental remediation potential of adsorptive recovery through sponge technology.
See full story at Nature Sustainability.

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Sunshine Not Moonshine – Happy Hour with Carbon Dioxide

Many novel chemistry and engineering approaches now exist that enable CO2 to be recycled into a cornucopia of products ranging from plastics and pharmaceuticals, to fertilizers and concrete, and even aviation and clean diesel fuels. One particularly innovative, and perhaps less conventional solution, to have recently emerged is an eco-friendly vodka made from CO2 and H2O. This concept has been realized through The Air Company, a legal distillery and start-up company located and operating out of Brooklyn, run by two young entrepreneurs, Stafford Sheehan and Gregory Constantine.
See full article at .

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Gigawatt Electricity Storage Using Water and Rocks

The dominant technology for the large-scale storage and retrieval of electricity is pumped hydro – electrical energy. In this approach, electricity is converted to gravitational potential energy by moving water uphill and is then retrieved by allowing the water to flow downhill through a turbine. However, a new concept in gravity storage eliminates the need for hills and simply uses water pumps to hydraulically lift massive rocks in an underground shaft. The acquired potential energy is reclaimed as electricity by discharging the water under pressure though a turbine.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Beyond Haber-Bosch: Non-Equilibrium Photocatalysis

A recent report in which the thermodynamic equilibrium limit of the Haber-Bosch synthesis of ammonia was, for the first time, surmounted by the action of light, and could change the prevailing view of what is possible and not possible in the field of catalysis. A hetero-nanostructured photocatalyst, Fe-TiO2-xHy, which contains both a high and low-temperature site in a single structure has been demonstrated to overcome the thermodynamic equilibrium limit of the ammonia synthesis. This is possible because the exothermic ammonia synthesis process is thermodynamically favored though kinetically sluggish at low temperature; however, the exact opposite prevails at high temperature.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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Climate Change Will Require Heavy Lifting

As the global hunger for electricity grows and the transition to solar and wind accelerates, electricity storage capacity is urgently needed to handle the challenges of scale and intermittency. Concrete solutions are needed to solve the large-scale electricity storage problem for both daily and seasonal applications, and it’s going to require some heavy lifting. A new generation of gravity batteries have emerged based on the lifting and lowering massive concrete weights. The solution may prove a viable option for storing and releasing grid scale electrical energy over periods as short as seconds to as long as months, which would represent a significant step towards renewable energy utilization.
See full article at Advanced Science News.

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