Dr. Elisabet Romero, group leader who joined ICIQ last February through the institute’s Starting Career Programme, has been awarded an European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. These grants are worth up to €1.5 M for a five-year project.
Dr. Romero will undertake the project entitled ‘Engineering Bio-Inspired Systems for the Conversion of Solar Energy to Hydrogen’ (BioInspired_SolarH2).
BioInspired_SolarH2 aims to achieve the efficient conversion of solar energy to hydrogen. The overall objective is to engineer bio-inspired systems able to convert solar energy into a separation of charges and to construct devices by coupling these systems to catalysts in order to drive sustainable and effective water oxidation and hydrogen fuel production.
To this end, Dr. Romero will design and construct robust chromophore-protein assemblies able to exploit coherence to ensure the efficient collection and conversion of solar energy. She will also apply a complete set of steady-state and time-resolved spectroscopic methods to investigate these engineered systems.
“We have reached a level of understanding of photosynthesis that is ready to be applied to develop new energy technologies. With the ERC funding, I will build a competitive research group with the aim to create a new generation of bio-inspired solar-energy conversion devices based on abundant and biodegradable materials. In this manner, we will contribute to a sustainable future for all,” says Romero.
This is ICIQ’s sixth ERC Starting Grant of a total of 17 ERC Grants (two Advanced, two Consolidator, six Starting, seven Proof of Concept) obtained since the ERC’s grants programme began in 2007.
About ERC Starting Grants
ERC Starting Grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders who are about to establish a proper research team and to start conducting independent research in Europe.
In this 2017 call 403 talented early-stage career researchers were awarded an ERC Starting Grant. The success rate for this call was 13%. In the domain of Physical Sciences and Engineering, 1339 proposals were submitted and only 177 projects, BioInspired_SolarH2 among them, received funding.