Lab Canada

Nanotechnology expert awarded $10M grant

Toronto, ON – University of Toronto (U of T) nanotechnology researcher Dr Ted Sargent has been awarded a $10 million grant from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Saudi Arabia – an international graduate-level research university set to open in September 2009.

U of T was one of 60 institutions worldwide invited to put forth nominees for the award. Dr Sargent, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and Canada research chair in nanotechnology, is one of 12 scholars to be part of the founding group of KAUST investigators and the only individual at a Canadian university to receive a grant. The competition was open to all internationally recognized scientists and engineers having an outstanding record of prior accomplishments and a very high level of originality and productivity.

In 2003, Dr Sargent was named one of world’s top young innovators by MIT’s Technology Review and in 2005 was named a research leader in the Scientific American 50. He is a graduate of U of T and Queen’s University.

“It’s a spectacular award to an absolutely outstanding researcher. U of T has huge strengths in nano-science, and in the 10 years since his PhD, Professor Sargent has done it all,” said David Naylor, the university’s president. “He’s carried out breakthrough experiments with stunning results and demystified nanotechnology for a wide audience in his popular book, The Dance of Molecules.”

Dr Sargent’s research will build on the work for which he has already won wide acclaim – developing nanotechnology that uses the infrared rays of the sun to provide power for virtually everything that now uses electricity. In 2005, he and his research team proved that it is possible to capture and convert the sun’s invisible infrared rays into electricity. The team did so using a material that could be simply spray-coated onto any flexible backing.

He will continue to conduct his work at U of T while collaborating at KAUST with students and faculty from around the world.

KAUST is a new university that is being built on 36 million sq m on the Red Sea at Thuwal, approximately 80 km north of Saudi Arabia’s second largest city, Jeddah. The awards are part of KAUST’s plan to establish itself as a global centre for top-notch research in key areas such as resources, energy and environment; biosciences and bioengineering; applied mathematics and computational science; and materials science and engineering.

Reported by Paul Fraumeni