The objectives of this Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Major Thematic Grant are:

  1. to discover new nanomaterials to harvest and use solar energy more efficiently and at lower cost;
  2. to use these new nanomaterials in devices and evaluate their performance; and
  3. to study the societal benefits and risks of nanotechnology innovations; and
  4. through a public seminar series, to give scientists and applied scientists an understanding of the underlying economic and political issues surrounding the broad implementation of these new materials and devices.

Over the next five years, the team will take a bold, innovative research direction in solar energy conversion. By developing novel nanomaterials that can be incorporated into devices and systematically characterized, the team intends to discover breakthrough materials and device structures that could have an enormous impact on society. In the process, they will create and study the fundamental properties of new nanomaterials and establish UBC as a worldwide hub for research in nanomaterials for alternative energy applications.

As a unique component of the Wall Major Thematic Grant project, the team will create a public seminar series that will engage experts from economics and policy and explore the role of alternative energy and solar energy conversion in society. "Nanomaterials for Alternative Energy Applications" is a project funded by a Major Thematic Grant from the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia for the period 2012-2016.

This project builds on the momentum of the highly successful PWIAS Exploratory Workshop on Nanomaterials for Alternative Energy Applications held in June 2010, which had the goal of identifying and focusing existing expertise at UBC in the areas of materials chemistry and engineering to develop a major interdisciplinary research effort in this area, beginning with a Peter Wall Major Thematic Grant application. Fifty-five researchers from Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States participated in this three day workshop.

The Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies Major Thematic Grant provides funding of up to $500,000 over a three to five year period to interdisciplinary teams of UBC and external scholars to research a new area.  It is expected that UBC will become a centre for research on the topic.