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Center of Excellence for Nanomaterial for Clean Energy Applications (CENCEA)


Partner: University of California, Berkeley

KACST-UC Berkeley Center of Excellence of Nanomaterials for Clean Energy Application (CENCEA) aims to develop strong research collaborations between KACST and UC Berkeley on the subject of innovative nanomaterials for storage and production of clean energy to develop solutions for challenges in renewable and cleaner energy sources. The collaboration will broadly include two cross-cutting areas of research: i) porous metal-organic frameworks and ii) nanocrystals. The proposed projects will have substantial impacts on the efficient separation of hydrocarbons, carbon capturedfrom flue gas, gas conversion to liquid fuels, and solar energy conversion.


In this project, three classes of crystalline porous solids, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), covalent-organic frameworks (COFs), and zeolitic imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), will be designed and synthesized to develop solutions for challenges in renewable and cleaner energy. These materials are energy efficient nanoporous solids with ultra-high surface areas (10,000 m2/g) with multivariate functionality into which a large number of functional groups can be incorporated and used for binding gases molecules. These innovative materials will be used for advanced applications, such as carbon capturedfrom flue gas, storage and transport of hydrogen and methane, and catalytic conversion of natural gas to liquids. These materials provide significant advantages over the state of the art materials. Our target is to provide prototype products of crystalline nanomaterials in accordance with our projects. The current projects provide unique capabilities of innovative research in the synthesis, characterization and study of porous nanomaterials and catalysts for renewable and cleaner energy applications.

 The projects presented are targeted at the most important outstanding questions and relevant applications in nanocrystal science and their application in different areas. Our goals are to synthesize metal nanocrystal  with unique properties and understand their fundamental problems, such as achieving controlled electronic doping of nanocrystal films, imaging solution reactions of nanocrystals in-situ in real time, and understanding the relationship between mechanical forces on the molecular scale and nanocrystal luminescence properties, as well as pushing toward application of nanocrystals in nanostructured solar cells, tandem heterojunction solar cells, and as cellular level force gauges. Over the course of recent decades colloidal nanocrystals have emerged as a leading class of materials with immense promise across a wide range of fields. The unparalleled optoelectronic and catalytic properties of semiconductor and metal nanocrystals offer immense potential for novel ways to generate, utilize, store, and transport energy for the world economy.