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Dalhousie professor wins prestigious science award

It’s not every day a Dalhousie professor is awarded with a high honour, but in Jeff Dahn’s case, he has made his mark once again.

Professor Dahn, a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Atmospheric Sciences won the Herzberg Medal, including a $1 million prize. The award is presented annually by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

“I was very happy to learn I won,” said Dahn.

The former Dalhousie alumni-turned-professor is a leader in energy research, mainly pertaining to lithium-ion batteries used in most electronic devices. Technology used worldwide such as cellphones and laptops rely on power from lithium-ion batteries.

“If you want to have good electricity, lowering the cost of lithium-ion batteries and increasing its lifetime is important,” said Dahn.

Dalhousie University and Tesla are currently in a five-year partnership with the NSERC for which Dahn sits as the chair. The NSERC contributes 50 percent of funding and Tesla contributes the other half towards research.

“We’ve been working with Tesla now for six months, and have found useful things which I hope will be incorporated in Tesla products going forward – that’s the goal,” said Dahn.

Dahn explains there are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in energy research at the university. Groups in the engineering department do battery related research.

“My advice for students wishing to get into research is to take the appropriate undergrad courses and develop a passion, and read widely,” said Dahn.

Simon Maranda is an exchange student writing his master’s thesis at the Laboratory of Applied Multiphase Thermal Engineering, led by Dr. Groulx. He is an exchange student at Dalhousie from the Lucerne University in Switzerland, where he works in the thermal energy storage research group.

Maranda explains since renewable energy is produced from weather patterns, energy storage systems such as battery or thermal storage units will become a key component to technology in the future.

“In the future we will have a lot more renewable energy being the top energy resource,” said Maranda.

“Tesla makes energy products used to store power generated from the sun and wind – their main focuses are cars and energy storage,” Dahn explains.

This award will be added to the numerous awards he has been given for his energy research including the Inaugural Governor General’s Award last year.

As for the one million dollar prize, Dahn says he plans to use it wisely.

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