Hany Aziz hopes his research will change the future of electronic devices, making them cheaper and more flexible. His work on new materials can also be applied to solar panels and the future of green energy.

Aziz and his research team at the University of Waterloo are studying organic semiconductors - the next generation of materials that will convert electrical power into light in devices such as laptops and cell phones and harvest light from the sun and convert it into energy in solar cells.

Hany Aziz

Hany Aziz, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in his lab at the University of Waterloo

Aziz, a professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, hopes his work will mean electronics will be less expensive and users will be able to roll them up and down like a screen. “Understanding and adapting the way light is emitted is critical to the functionality of these new devices,” says Aziz.

Although harvesting light from the sun and converting it into energy isn’t new, using organic material instead of silicon in solar cells is innovative, yet limiting. “Use of organic material decreases reliability and performance over time in solar cells, which isn’t acceptable for practical use,” says Aziz.

Waterloo researchers receive funding boost from NSERC

Aziz will continue to work on these complex issues with the help of a $120,000 Discovery Accelerator Supplement from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). He and nine other researchers from the University of Waterloo recently received increased funds to support their research deemed to be novel or potentially transformative, and likely to contribute to ground-breaking advances.

The 10 recipients of the Discovery Accelerator Supplement are among more than 100 researchers at Waterloo who have received more than $20 million to further their research through programs such as Discovery grants and grants for equipment.

“This funding provides a valuable boost to researchers entering a critical phase of their work and supports it at the next level. The results will, in turn, advance technology around the world and the Canadian economy,” says D. George Dixon, vice-president, university research at Waterloo.

The other researchers from Waterloo that NSERC selected for supplemental funding in addition to a Discovery grant are:

  • Professor William Cook (Combinatorics and Optimization): Extending the reach of discrete optimization and mixed-integer programming to guide industries through complex design procedures.
  • Professor Zhongwei Chen (Chemical Engineering): Development of graphene based metal-free or non-precious metal catalysts for next generation fuel cell applications.
  • Professor Ihab Ilyas (David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science): Improving data cleansing and restoration, including scalable and holistic data cleaning, to produce real solutions for business needs.
  • Professor Ondrej Lhotak (David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science): Developing the underlying techniques that are used in software development tools that enable programmers to work more efficiently, and specifically to find bugs in programs.
  • Professor M. Tamer Özsu (David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science): Studying techniques for efficient storage and querying of large graphs, such as social networks, and methods for analyzing such graphs, such as finding relationships between people in a social network.
  • Professor John Watrous (David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science and Institute for Quantum Computing): Investigating the potential of quantum computers, as well as interactions among multiple quantum computers, leading to a better understanding of quantum information and how it can be used in our society.
  • Professor Sherry Schiff (Earth and Environmental Sciences): Studying dissolved organic matter in aquatic ecosystems, specifically how the type of organic matter governs water quality and the loss of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.
  • Professor John Wen (Mechanical and Mechatronics Engineering): Development of new nano-aluminum based energetic materials for use in civil and defence applications, such as powering nanosatellites and fabricating micro-electronic devices.
  • Professor John T.W. Yeow (Systems Design Engineering): Development of micro/nanotechnology-based imaging instruments, such as x-ray and ultrasound machines.