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Top 25 of 2012: Tao Xu

December 9, 2012
Tao Xu

Tao Xu

As 2012 draws to a close, NIU Today is offering a look back at 25 of the top stories from the year.

No. 22

NIU professor Tao Xu, in February received a prestigious Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) grant of $400,000 to support his research and teaching efforts.

Xu, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, has developed a promising nanoscience research program to improve solar energy conversion in future generations of solar cells.

“Because of environmental concerns related to nuclear and fossil-fuel-based energy, people are demanding clean alternative energies that can help build up our power grids,” Xu said. “Solar cells are quite safe, but we need to enhance their overall efficiency and affordability. To accomplish this, our group is trying to gain a better understanding of the fundamental processes at work in solar cells.”

Xu’s group also is developing novel, environmentally friendly materials that use sunlight as an energy source to burn away organic pollutants from wastewater. The scientists have published a number of journal articles on the topic. Xu hopes the technique could be used for purification of sewage or even oil-contaminated water.

Xu’s grant dollars will come over the next five years.

The complete story is available online.