Daniel G. Nocera
Director of Graduate Studies
Administrative Contact: Carolyn Moore
Daniel G. Nocera is the Patterson Rockwood Professor of Energy at Harvard University. He is widely recognized in the world as a leading researcher in renewable energy. His group has pioneered studies of the basic mechanisms of energy conversion in biology and chemistry with a particular focus on multielectron transformations and the coupling of protons to electron transfer (i.e., proton-coupled electron transfer). A focus in the group has been to exploit this mechanistic knowledge for the generation of solar fuels. His group has recently accomplished a solar fuels process that captures many of the elements of photosynthesis and he has now translated this science to produce the artificial leaf, which was named by Time magazine as Innovation of the Year for 2011. He has since achieved solar-to-hydrogen efficiency of greater than 10%. He has also demonstrated a path to liquid fuels using a bio-engineered bacterium, Ralstonia eutropha to efficiently convert carbon dioxide, along with hydrogen produced from the artificial leaf, into biomass and fusel alcohols. In this hybrid microbial | artificial leaf system, equivalent solar-to-biomass (10.2%) and solar-to-fuels (6.7%) yields exceed that of terrestrial plants. These science discoveries set the stage for a storage mechanism for the large scale, distributed, deployment of solar energy. Other areas of interest in the group include the development of proton-coupled electron transfer and its application to radical enzymology, the development of new cancer therapies by creating nanocrystal chemosensors for metabolic tumor profiling, the creation of spin frustrated materials, which has culminated in the discovery of the quantum spin liquid, and the invention of molecular tagging velocimetry technique for the measurement of highly turbulent fluid flows.
His contributions to the development of renewable energy have been recognized by a number of awards, some of which include the Leigh Ann Conn Prize for Renewable Energy, Eni Prize, IAPS Award, Burghausen Prize, Elizabeth Wood Award and the United Nation’s Science and Technology Award and from the American Chemical Society the Inorganic Chemistry, Harrison Howe. Kosolapoff and Remsen Awards. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the Indian Academy of Sciences. Before joining Harvard, Nocera began his career at Michigan State University, where he was a University Distinguished Professor and then was on the faculty of MIT where he was the Henry Dreyfus Professor of Energy. He earned his B.S. degree at Rutgers University and his Ph.D. at Caltech. Nocera has mentored 146 Ph.D. graduate and postdoctoral students, published over 400 papers, given over 850 invited talks and 110 named lectureships. In 2008, he founded Sun Catalytix, a company committed to bringing personalized energy to the non–legacy world. In August 2014, Lockheed Martin purchased the assets of Sun Catalytix, and now Sun Catalytix technology is being fast-tracked to commercialization under the new venture, Lockheed Martin Advanced Energy Storage, LLC.
Cambridge, MA 02138