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CBES: Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science


Read the most recent Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science (CBES) news below, and subscribe to our newsletters to stay informed about what is happening at CBES.  
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Four CBES investigators land on highly cited list

November 19, 2020
CBES senior investigators Joanna Aizenberg, Chad Mirkin, George Schatz and George Whitesides have been recognized as 2020 Highly Cited Researchers by Clarivate Analytics. The list identifies scientists who have produced multiple papers over the past decade ranking in the top 1 percent of citations by field and publication year.
Chase Brisbois portrait

Meet the Researchers: Chase Brisbois

September 1, 2020
Chase Brisbois is a graduate student specializing in computational soft matter in the laboratory of CBES deputy director Monica Olvera de la Cruz. In this interview, Brisbois describes his early love of science and plants as well as his research on using magnetic fields to control microswimmers.

Weiss wins ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry

August 14, 2020

CBES senior investigator Emily Weiss has been recognized with the 2021 ACS Award in Colloid Chemistry, the American Chemical Society announced. Weiss, the Mark and Nancy Ratner Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern, is scheduled to be honored along with the other national award winners in March at the ACS 2021 Spring Meeting in San Antonio.

Graphic illustration of hybrid perovskite materials

CBES, MIT researchers develop novel materials for energy and sensing

July 6, 2020
A team of scientists from CBES and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has demonstrated the ability to fine-tune the electronic properties of hybrid perovskite materials, which have drawn enormous interest as potential next-generation optoelectronic materials for devices such as solar cells and light sources. The research was published online July 6 in Nature Chemistry and selected as the cover article for the journal's August print edition.
Object crawls when hit with blue light

Synthetic materials mimic living creatures

June 22, 2020
CBES researchers have developed "robotic soft matter" that mimics living creatures by bending, rotating and even crawling when hit with light. The scientists believe the lifelike materials could carry out many tasks, with potential applications in energy, environmental remediation and advanced medicine.
Emily Weiss photo

Weiss named a Blavatnik National Awards finalist for third straight year

June 17, 2020
CBES senior investigator Emily Weiss has been named a finalist for the 2020 Blavatnik National Awards for Young Scientists, which offer the largest unrestricted awards of their kind for early career scientists and engineers. The finalists are considered to be some of America’s most important young scientific researchers aged 42 years or younger, driving the next generation of innovation by addressing today’s most complex and intriguing scientific questions.

Researchers develop new set of colloidal crystals

June 12, 2020

In work supported by the Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science, researchers demonstrated a new method for engineering colloidal crystals using metal-organic framework nanoparticles chemically modified with DNA. These materials have potential applications in chemical detection and decontamination, among other functions relevant to energy.

CBES senior investigator Chad Mirkin was corresponding author of the paper.

Whitesides to receive honorary degree from Northwestern

May 6, 2020

CBES senior investigator George Whitesides will receive an honorary degree from Northwestern University during a virtual commencement ceremony on June 19.

Whitesides is the Woodford L. and Ann A. Flowers University Professor at Harvard University and has made seminal contributions in the areas of chemistry, materials science, mechanical engineering, drug discovery and medical diagnostic systems for underdeveloped regions, among many others. His prolific and wide-reaching work has led to the development of materials for robotic systems, surface chemistries for drug discovery assays and methods for microfabrication. 

Samuel Stupp portrait

CBES director Samuel Stupp elected to National Academy of Sciences

April 28, 2020
CBES director Samuel Stupp has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of “outstanding contributions to supramolecular and materials chemistry," the academy announced. Stupp and the other new members will be inducted at the academy’s annual meeting next April.
Hiroaki Sai portrait

Meet the Researchers: Hiroaki Sai

April 9, 2020
Hiroaki Sai is a research associate in the laboratory of CBES director Samuel Stupp. In this interview, Sai describes his research in solar energy conversion, his contributions to an art installation that has been internationally displayed, and how he developed into a strong and willing mentor for younger scientists in the Stupp group.
Samuel Stupp portrait

CBES director Samuel Stupp awarded 2020 Nanoscience Prize

April 8, 2020
CBES director Samuel Stupp has received the 2020 Nanoscience Prize, the International Society for Nanoscale Science, Computing, and Engineering (ISNSCE) announced April 8. Stupp was honored for his pioneering contributions in the areas of self-assembly and supramolecular chemistry.
Chad Mirkin portrait

High-throughput 3D printer could revolutionize manufacturing

January 30, 2020
In work supported by the Center for Bio-Inspired Energy Science, CBES senior investigator Chad Mirkin and colleagues at Northwestern University developed a 3D printer that can print about half a yard in an hour — a record throughput for 3D printing. The technology, called high-area rapid printing (HARP), was described in an October 2019 publication in Science and was featured in a Big Ten Network story and video published Jan. 29.
George Schatz portrait

Schatz retires as editor-in-chief of journal after 15 years

December 20, 2019
CBES senior investigator George Schatz announced his retirement as editor-in-chief of The Journal of Physical Chemistry (JPC) in an editorial published online Dec. 19. Schatz spent 15 years in the position, overseeing the family of journals as it expanded from two journals (JPC A and JPC B) to four (adding JPC C and JPC Letters). During this time, the journals published more than 100,000 papers.

Five CBES researchers land on ‘highly cited’ list

November 19, 2019

CBES Director Samuel Stupp and investigators Chad Mirkin, George Schatz, Joanna Aizenberg and George Whitesides were named to the Highly Cited Researchers 2019 list by the Web of Science Group. The list sought to recognize the world’s most influential researchers of the past decade, as evidenced by having multiple papers that ranked in the top 1 percent of citations for their field and year.

Weiss leverages quantum mechanics to produce desirable bioactive molecules

November 1, 2019

CBES investigator Emily Weiss led a team of researchers who used visible light and tiny nanoparticles known as quantum dots to make molecules of a class that is highly desirable for drug development. The nanoparticle catalysts — only three nanometers across — can be reused for additional chemical reactions, and the work represents the first use of a nanoparticle’s surface as a template for a light-driven reaction called a cycloaddition.

“Quantum dots behave more like organic molecules than metal nanoparticles,” Weiss said. “The electrons are squeezed into such a small space that their reactivity follows the rules of quantum mechanics. We can take advantage of this, along with the templating power of the nanoparticle surface.”

Gem-like nanoparticles

CBES research unveils new method for creating highly active catalysts

September 12, 2019
A Northwestern University research team led by CBES senior investigator Chad Mirkin has developed a new method for making highly desirable catalysts from metal nanoparticles that could lead to better fuel cells, among other applications. The researchers also discovered the method can take spent catalysts and recycle them into active catalysts.

Mirkin receives Netherlands Award for Supramolecular Chemistry

August 30, 2019

CBES investigator Chad Mirkin accepted the 2019 Netherlands Award for Supramolecular Chemistry on August 18 during the International Conference on Molecular Systems Engineering in Nijmegen. The award, given by the Research Center for Functional Molecular Systems, seeks to “recognize and reward outstanding scientists in the supramolecular chemistry field.”

As the third recipient of the honor, Mirkin joins two Nobel Laureates in chemistry: Jean-Marie Lehn and Sir Fraser Stoddart. Mirkin also visited universities around the Netherlands as part of a lecture series associated with the award.

Danna Freedman honored with Presidential Early Career Award

July 12, 2019

CBES investigator Danna Freedman is one of five Northwestern University professors selected for the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE). President Donald Trump announced the recipients on July 2, and each awardee will be recognized at a July 25 ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Freedman, a chemist nominated by the National Science Foundation, received the PECASE for her work on qubits — the smallest unit in quantum computing. Developing computers with these objects would allow scientists to understand electron transfer in new ways, enabling the creation of novel materials for renewable energy.

Chad Mirkin portrait

Chad Mirkin wins Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine

July 11, 2019
CBES investigator Chad Mirkin has been selected to receive the $250,000 Kabiller Prize in Nanoscience and Nanomedicine, the world’s largest monetary award for outstanding achievement in nanotechnology and its application to medicine and biology.
Monica Olvera de la Cruz portrait

Electron-like nanoparticles challenge current understanding of matter

June 20, 2019
Northwestern University researchers led by CBES investigators Monica Olvera de la Cruz and Chad Mirkin have made a discovery that may upend the current notion of matter. They found that tiny nanoparticles engineered with DNA in colloidal crystals act just like electrons — opening a pathway to design new materials.
Stacey Chin research image

CBES research on artificial muscles featured in EFRC newsletter

June 20, 2019
Recent CBES work was featured prominently in the Energy Frontier Research Centers’ Summer 2019 newsletter. The research, published in Nature Communications, describes a special class of polymer chains that expand and contract based on water temperature.
Combined portrait of Chad Mirkin and John Rogers

Rogers, Mirkin to receive 2019 Nakamura Awards

June 18, 2019
CBES investigators Chad A. Mirkin and John A. Rogers will each receive a 2019 Nakamura Award from the American Association for Advances in Functional Materials (AAAFM) this August.

Joanna Aizenberg elected to prestigious national academies

April 30, 2019

CBES investigator Joanna Aizenberg was elected to the National Academy of Engineering in February and to the National Academy of Sciences in April. The NAE honor recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to engineering research, practice or education.

For her NAS election, Aizenberg was cited for "being the pioneer of the budding field of bioinspired materials chemistry, applying lessons from natural systems to inventing artificial materials with unprecedented properties." She was also noted for making "groundbreaking, seminal contributions to biomineralization, crystal engineering, smart surfaces, and antifouling and stimuli-responsive materials that display unique hierarchical designs."