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Yusuf Hamied Department of Chemistry

Erwin in the lab

E. Reisner in Lab, courtesy Gabriella Bocchetti ©University of Cambridge

The Royal Society awarded the Hughes Medal 2023 to Professor Erwin Reisner for his research in solar technology.

The Hughes Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions in the field of energy. Reisner received the award for “pioneering new concepts and solar technologies for the production of sustainable fuels and chemicals from carbon dioxide, biomass and plastic waste.”

Reisner has led research into solar-powered technologies that convert carbon dioxide and other waste products into clean sustainable fuels without any waste. His laboratory’s research includes the development of biological catalysts that work together with technology to artificially photosynthesise light into energy.

“We are aiming to overcome the limitations of natural and artificial photosynthesis, using enzymes as idealised model catalysts,” Resiner explained in an interview in our magazine. “We are trying to combine the best of the two worlds of synthetic systems and biology for solar energy harvesting.”

This has led to inventions such as the artificial leaf which embarked on its maiden voyage along the river Cam this year. It is a floating device that turns carbon dioxide and water into sustainable liquid fuels using sunlight. Reisner will be demonstrating some of his research at the alumni festival in September.

Previous laureates of the Hughes Medal include Professor Dame Clare Grey and Professor A David Buckingham.