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Harvesting Electricity Out of Thin Air

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Date and time
Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The air contains an enormous amount of electricity. Clouds are full of it. But how to actually capture it for a continuous energy resource? Dr. Jun Yao and his colleagues at UMass-Amherst have created a small-scale cloud they call the “generic Air-gen effect” that produces a reliable stream of electricity that can be harvested for general use. In this interview, Dr. Yao describes how the Air-gen innovation was developed, how the electricity is harvested from the air via a special material made of protein nanowires, and when the device can be scaled up for general use.

Jun Yao.jpg
Jun Yao, Ph.D., is a remarkable innovator. He received his a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Rice University, and postdoctoral training in Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University. He is a recipient of a NSF CAREER award (2019), a Sony faculty innovation award (2021), a Barbara H. & Joseph J. Goldstein Outstanding Junior Faculty Award from UMass College of Engineering (2020-21), a NIH Trailblazer R21 award (2022), and a Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship (2022).

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