Funding provides new infrastructure for next-generation solar cells and batteries

Chemist Lingzi Sang receives funding from the John R. Evans Leaders fund, through the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

Katie Willis - 4 November 2020

Research on cold-resistant solar cells and batteries has received an infusion of funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), supporting research to help power the future. The research is spearheaded by the University of Alberta’s Lingzi Sang.

“This project is designed to provide Alberta with critical expertise and insights to achieve a full set of clean energy solutions that will help to minimize the province’s greenhouse gases emissions and reduce its carbon footprint,” explained Sang, assistant professor in the Department of Chemistry.

Sang’s research centres on developing materials, such as solar cells or batteries, that can operate under extreme cold conditions—with applications for both cities and remote communities located in the Northern Canada.

Earlier this year, Sang was awarded funding from theJohn R. Evans Leaders Fund (JELF), a CFI initiative to support computing infrastructure and data storage, as well as marine research equipment. JELF funding enables researchers to invest in the advanced research infrastructure and tools required to push the boundaries of their respective fields. The project also received matching funds from the Government of Alberta.

Learn more about Sang’s research. 

What type of equipment/infrastructure will this new funding support?

This new CFI project will fund essential research infrastructure to build the Laboratory for Advanced Characterization of Interfaces in Energy Devices (LACIE) at the University of Alberta. LACIE aims to discover materials and develop methods for fabricating high-performance devices that capture and store energy from sustainable resources.

How will these new tools support your work in pushing the boundaries of your field?

The new tools will enable the research team deep access to the molecular level of energy devices in a controlled, air-free environment. Information acquired under this designed condition is not easily accessible using the existing research tools in Canada, yet must be obtained to rationally optimize the performances of these devices.

Why is this type of funding important?

This project is designed to provide the province with critical expertise and insights to achieve a full set of clean energy solutions that will help to minimize the province’s greenhouse gases emissions and reduce its carbon footprint.

One major focus of this project is to develop functional materials that potentially allow solar cells and batteries to operate under extreme cold conditions—down to -70 degrees Celsuis. The research outcomes will directly benefit not only our metropolitan areas, communities at higher latitudes (Calgary and Edmonton), but in remote communities that rely upon expensive diesel-powered generation of electricity.

What makes the University of Alberta's Faculty of Science an excellent place to pursue this research?

UAlberta is the home of Future Energy Systems, a research institute which supports the research activities of more than 100 independent researchers and up to 1,000 highly qualified personnel (HQP) with the goal of engaging cross-disciplinary energy research. LACIE is specifically tailored to provide the rapidly growing community of researchers in the area of low-carbon energy with a suite of tools directed towards device fabrication and characterization.The ultimate goal is to help create a pipeline of highly qualified Albertans for the renewable energy industry of the province.