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New Amsterdam solar energy initiative

November 16th, 2012, around thirty scientists from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), VU University and FOM-institute AMOLF met for a kickoff workshop in which they decided to establish a new joint solar energy research initiative in Amsterdam, called ‘Solardam’.

The goal of Solardam is to carry out a joint multidisciplinary research program to harvest energy from the sun by generating electricity and fuel through combinations of photovoltaics, photocatalysis and photosynthesis. The thirty principal investigators attending the workshop represent over 100 scientists that are already  active in solar energy research at UvA, VU and AMOLF.

Solardam will be a multi-disciplinary platform that includes contributions from the whole range of natural sciences: physics, chemistry and biology. The Solardam initiative builds on successful energy research programs of the contributing partners. By bringing together expertise and sharing facilities, the new collaboration will be able to address problems that could previously not be solved. Three new research lines will be established:

1. Light management: Aim is to enhance the absorption and conversion of light from the sun in photovoltaics, photocatalysis and photosynthesis by nanophotonic concepts, spectrum splitting and shaping, and (re-)design of natural and artificial photosynthetic systems.
2. Solar fuels: The design and fabrication of new materials for photocatalytic solar energy conversion. Design of water-splitting catalysts and redesign of the oxygen evolving complex of photosynthesis for more efficient photosynthesis and for application in the artificial leaf.
3. Photosynthesis: optimize solar-energy-to-fuel conversion by photosynthetic organisms, using a systems biology/physics approach.

Solardam will benefit greatly from the merger of the science faculties of the UvA and the VU, which will bring the majority of the scientists together in one organization. Solardam will offer a center of excellence for the training of students in the multi-disciplinary field of solar energy conversion with strong ties to physics, chemistry, biology and information science/mathematical modeling.

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