Ratner Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES)

Project: Research project

Project Details


The objective of this EFRC renewal proposal is to establish a Center for Bio-inspired Energy Science (CBES) at Northwestern University in collaboration with five partner institutions, Harvard University, University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania State University, and New York University. During the first cycle of this EFRC, the grant supported the Non-equilibrium Energy Research Center (NERC), which has now evolved into the CBES for the second cycle with the same team of scientists plus two new members. Living organisms function under conditions of non-equilibrium as they efficiently interconvert different types of useful energy involving light, chemical reactions, as well as mechanical and electrical forces. Building on key discoveries made by the team on processes of non-equilibrium during the first cycle, the objective of the CBES is to develop artificial matter with energy use functions observed in living organisms. Examples of the Center’s specific scientific objectives include: developing materials that function like muscle to convert chemical to mechanical energy, creating micro-materials inspired by the organelles of cells that provide new energy-saving strategies for chemical production, making dynamic living-like materials based on small particles that in the presence of chemicals organize to act as motors or machines, and designing materials inspired by the ion-pumping capabilities of cells for use in water remediation and desalination, among others. The interactive culture of the team and its broad range of scientific backgrounds covering synthetic chemistry, materials science, biomolecular materials, computational methods, and condensed matter theory will provide all the necessary capabilities and methods to tackle this exciting area of research. We expect as outcomes the development of artificial materials with biological traits that can change the way we use energy and new technologies inspired by biological systems.
Effective start/end date8/1/147/31/24


  • Department of Energy (DE-SC0000989-0005)


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