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A unique facility for sustainable energy technologies

March 25, 2022 | Audrey-Maude Vézina

Update : June 22, 2022

The Computational Energy Materials Design Infrastructure promotes the development of innovative materials to solve energy and environmental challenges.

Artificial intelligence

CEMDI promotes partnerships between industry and academia by bringing theory into practice.

The high cost of specialized materials often hinders the deployment of sustainable technologies. Scientists are therefore seeking to improve the efficiency of more affordable and abundant materials. However, this is a significant challenge due to a poor understanding of their fundamental properties. The Computational Energy Materials Design Infrastructure (CEMDI) seeks to address this problem.

Led by Professor Kulbir Kaur Ghuman, the new platform, hosted by the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS), offers advanced computational tools, with privileged access to Compute Canada. In addition to accelerating the development of sustainable technologies, CEMDI promotes partnerships between industry and academia by bringing theory into practice.

To accomplish its mission, CEMDI is organizing a series of seminars, which started in March 2022. This will expose student members and scientists to various facets of the green energy sector. It will be a great time for interactions between academic, industry and policy experts.

“We hope that the platform will become a key academic establishment that fosters innovation in green energy sector through collaboration and advanced computational research.”

Kulbir Kaur Ghuman, expert in computational materials design and sutainable fuels and chemicals

A multidisciplinary grouping

This pole of expertise brings together several INRS research teams. In addition to Professor Ghuman, it also benefits from the participation of Professors Kenneth Beyerlein, Luca Razzari, François Vidal, Emanuele Orgiu, Andreas Peter Ruediger and Jinyang Liang.

Several efforts are being made to develop new materials. Indeed, Professor Ghuman specializes in advanced computational techniques to establish novel structure-property relationships and mechanisms imperative to optimize the materials’ chemistry. Professor Beyerlein focuses on the study of materials that are on the verge of being used in sustainable energy technology, but currently have an undesirable property or behaviour that limits their use. He emphasizes that the platform will serve as a discovery site for inventive solutions and approaches to energy problems.

Another part of the research focuses on catalysts, elements that accelerate chemical reactions. Professor Razzari is working mainly on photocatalysts to improve their performance. These light-activated substances can be used to produce hydrogen from water, among other things. Professor Vidal is developing efficient and inexpensive catalysts for hydrogen fuel cells, based on non-noble metals. These cells are part of the solution to exit the fossil fuel era. Thus, all the numerical simulations conducted at CEMDI will guide the experiments, while predicting the properties of the materials of interest.

In addition to these four areas of expertise, Professor Orgiu is also contributing. He is interested in doping in organic semiconductors to increase their thermoelectric performance. He points out that the inorganic materials currently used are generally expensive, toxic and their constitutive elements are scarce. “We hope our findings will contribute to the adoption of low-cost and carbon-based materials for thermoelectric technologies which allow to recycle waste heat,” he adds.

Professor Ruediger’s group focuses its research on nanoscale oxide electronics. Through advanced scanning probe techniques and optical spectroscopy, the goal is to understand the physical properties of these multifunctional materials and to open new fields of application in clean energy.

Finally, Professor Liang contributes to CEMDI through his expertise in ultrafast computational imaging. The advanced systems and new reconstruction algorithms he is working on will enable fast and accurate characterizations of advanced materials. He believes that the exchange of ideas between experts from different fields of study will help him find more novel applications in advanced materials characterization and spark interdisciplinary projects.

“The CEMDI will be a great success. It will be the ‘go-to’ place for anyone seeking expertise, collaboration and graduate studies in the field of sustainable energy technologies,” adds Professor Liang.


CEMDI is a unique infrastructure dedicated to revolutionize materials research discovery for commercializing sustainable energy technologies and preventing climate change. The platform is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the Canada Research Chairs Program, the Fonds de recherche du Québec – Nature et technologies, the Canadian Cancer Society, Compute Canada, Mitacs, and the New Frontiers in Research Fund.

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