Chemistry—Project Prometheus

Launch Project Prometheus to take us beyond batteries and revolutionize solar energy harvesting, storage, and conversion

Project Prometheus is the next step in a decades-long chemical research revolution to usher in a “post-carbon” society. Solar energy is the fuel of the future, but today’s methods of harvesting and storing it are inefficient and incomplete. The primary problem: Energy demands don’t drop when the sun sets.

The project focuses on three aspects of solar energy:

  • Capturing sunlight: Rather than thinking about a solar cell, think about a leaf. How do plants harness the sun to drive photosynthesis? Project Prometheus will learn from nature—then do it better.
  • Storage of energy in chemical bonds: New materials must be created to absorb light but separate the charges—a new, more efficient solar cell.
  • Chemical conversion of artificial photosynthesis products: PSD researchers are exploring ways to use light-harvesting and charge-separating materials to create chemical fuels.

The University of Chicago already has leaders conducting the fundamental research upon which this energy revolution relies, but it must continue to attract and retain intellectually curious minds to sustain Project Prometheus. To that end, alumni and friends of the Division have an opportunity to endow named chairs and fellowships and facilities for instrumentation, characterization, and fabrication.