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Peidong Yang, DOE solar energy center get nod from President Obama

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Peidong Yang
Peidong Yang

January 28, 2011

In his January 25 State of the Union address, President Obama pledged a commitment to research and development that “we haven’t seen since the height of the Space Race.” The president added, “We’ll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology — an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”

As an example, the president lauded the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), a $122 million Department of Energy project. The goal of the center is, in his words, “to turn sunlight into fuel.” Spearheaded by Caltech and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the center is led by a small team of researchers including UC Berkeley chemistry professor and LBNL Faculty Scientist, Peidong Yang.

Says Yang, “JCAP is the opportunity of a lifetime to tackle important energy problems that will have tremendous impact in the future of our society. We will certainly have many scientific and technological challenges ahead of us, but with focused research efforts from our very talented team, we will find solutions for solar-to-fuel technology.”

First announced in July 2010, JCAP brings together leading researchers in an ambitious effort aimed at simulating nature's photosynthetic apparatus for practical energy production. The goal is to develop an integrated solar energy-to-chemical fuel conversion system and move this system from the bench-top discovery phase to a scale where it can be commercialized.

JCAP will create the functional components necessary to assemble a complete artificial photosynthetic system including light absorbers, catalysts, molecular linkers, and separation membranes.

The center will then integrate those components into an operational solar fuel system and develop strategies to move from the laboratory toward commercial viability. The objective is to drive the field of solar fuels from fundamental research, where it has resided for decades, into applied research and technology development, setting the stage for the creation of a direct solar fuels industry.

The proposal leadership team included LBNL’s Heinz Frei and Elaine Chandler. Participating institutions include UC Berkeley, the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, UC Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and UC San Diego.

More Information

For more information on JCAP visit

For more information about Peidong Yang, visit his website at