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U of T Hertzberg winner wants to fight climate change

Climate change

Dr. Sajeev John, the winner of the $1 million Gerhard Hertzberg Canada Gold Medal, has big plans and is hoping to attract like-minded scientists.

The University of Toronto Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) prize recipient, developed a method to confine and control sunlight. It has several exciting possibilities that could affect how information is stored in quantum supercomputers, medical science, energy science, and by extension – fight climate change.

To make solar panel technology more efficient, and minimize toxic components, John and his collaborators have been working on new light-trapping equipment on a molecular scale.

John envisions his very thin, new equipment could be found on the surfaces of vehicles, buildings, and maybe clothing. It would allow energy from the sun to be harvested in everyday products made of silicon rather than plastic.

CTV News reports, that John explained, his colleagues in several countries are putting “onto the top surface of a solar cell, … photonic crystal … on a silicon structure, which already has the high-quality electronics built by the group in Germany…” Photonic crystal is made from silica (sand) rather than carbon-based crude oil. Currently, the technology also exists to recycle silicon.

John is pleased the $1 million NSERC prize, awarded over five years, can now be used to fund more research into Photonic Band Gap (PBG) materials, and how the technology can confine sunlight in energy cells. PBG products are designed to replace current electron-based technologies.

Dr. Sajeev John’s Gerhard Hertzberg Canada Gold Medal recognizes a lifetime of work distinguished by an Order of Canada, and a Canada Council Killam Prize for Natural Sciences. He is also on the Nobel Clarivate Citation Laureates list, meaning that he is being considered for a Nobel Prize. He is Canada Research Chair in Optical Sciences at the University of Toronto.


Physicist who found a way to trap light wins $1M science prize. (2021, November 17). CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/science/sajeev-john-herzberg-medal-1.6251055

Sajeev John wins Canada’s top science award for his work on trapping light in microchips. (2021, November 17). CTV News. https://www.ctvnews.ca/sci-tech/sajeev-john-wins-canada-s-top-science-award-for-his-work-on-trapping-light-in-microchips-1.5669321

Sajeev John: Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering. (2021, November 17). NSERC Announcement. https://www.nserc-crsng.gc.ca/Prizes-Prix/Herzberg-Herzberg/Profiles-Profils/John-John_eng.asp

U of T’s Sajeev John receives Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for work on harnessing flow of photons. (2021, November 19). Canadian News Media. https://canadanewsmedia.ca/u-of-ts-sajeev-john-receives-gerhard-herzberg-canada-gold-medal-for-work-on-harnessing-flow-of-photons-newsuoft/

Theoretical physicist Sajeev John wins prestigious Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal.  (2021, November 17). U of T Celebrates. https://www.utoronto.ca/celebrates/theoretical-physicist-sajeev-john-wins-prestigious-gerhard-herzberg-canada-gold-medal



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