There’s a lot of energy on campus, whether you’ve seen the new buildings to house research laboratories on the northwest side of campus, or attended the BERC symposium that brought together 700 members of the UC Berkeley community to talk about carbon emissions and clean technology. In this issue of the BSR we’re putting a spotlight on energy, from biofuels to solar cells, and examining how Berkeley is experimenting with novel technology in a number of fields, to maintain an energetic and cutting-edge research community.
For an overview of the energy research community at Cal and the up-and-coming institute that is funding and organizing its projects, Anna Zaniewski brings us Building BECI, an entertaining and thoughtful exploration of the forces that brought the Berkeley Energy and Climate Institute into being and its exciting future trajectory. Many research labs are already on this trajectory by virtue of the work they’ve completed, and in Natural inspiration and Sweet on biofuels Sheba Plamthottam and Hannah Ray catch up with Professor Katz of Chemical Engineering and Professor Cate of Chemical Engineering and the Energy Biosciences Institute to find out how genetically engineering organisms and enzymes can lead to safer and more efficient production of fuels.
Keeping researchers energized—and keeping research exciting—can be a difficult engineering challenge. In Whose lab are you wearing?, Anand Sampat reports on Ana Claudia Arias’s lab in the EECS department and their efforts to bring flexible, wearable technology to the masses. From e-ink screens that can be printed directly onto clothing to medical sensors that can wrap around the body’s contours, Arias’s inventions hold promise. A technological innovator herself, Lina Nilsson, a co-founder of Tekla Labs, covers efforts to bring entrepreneurial technologies developed on campus to developing countries in Planting seeds. Award-winning innovations including solar cell kits and cookstoves are being introduced in India and Sudan, with plans for scaling outward around the globe. If you’d like to know how a solar cell works before trying to build one, Ali Moharrer dives into the theory of solar cell efficiency in Catch and release, including Electrical Engineering professor Eli Yablonovitch’s methods for producing solar cells with record-breaking efficiences.
Keep an eye out for improvements around the BSR as well; we’re bringing our entire digital archive online, in whole issues and individual articles, and you’ll be able to find the BSR more easily on campus, with our distribution boxes at the campus’s science and engineering buildings. In the fall, Sebastien Lounis takes over my duties, and as a veteran of the energy community himself, it’s sure to be an exciting transition.
Enjoy the issue,