Skip to content
Hoover Tower with SEQ PV panels

Yi Cui awarded 2021 Global Energy Prize for his nanomaterials and battery research

Sep 6, 2021
Precourt Institute

By Mark Golden

Yi Cui, director of Stanford University’s Precourt Institute for Energy, won the 2021 Global Energy Prize for new energy applications, one of three Global Energy Prizes given annually. The award cites Cui’s “exceptional contributions in nanomaterials design, synthesis and characterization for energy and the environment, particularly for transformational innovations in battery science.”

Headshot of Yi Cui
Yi Cui, Stanford materials science professor and director of Stanford's
Precourt Institute for Energy. (Credit: Feng Pan)

Founded in 2002 and headquartered in Moscow, the international Global Energy Prize recognizes outstanding scientific research and technical developments in energy that promote greater efficiency and environmental security. The IREG Observatory on Academic Ranking & Excellence includes the Global Energy Prize on its list of the top 99 international academic awards. Previous winners include Nobel Prize laureates Zhorez Alferov of Russia, Shuji Nakamura of the United States, and Akira Yoshino of Japan, who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his contributions to the development of lithium-ion batteries.

“This is a prestigious international prize, and I’m honored to be included in the list of previous winners who made such important contributions to building a more sustainable energy future,” said Cui, who is also a professor in the Department of Materials Science & Engineering in Stanford’s School of Engineering, as well as professor of photon science at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

“This award recognizes the hard work and achievements of the many Stanford faculty members, students and staff scientists I’ve had the great fortune to work with,” Cui said.

Stanford appointed Cui as the new director of the Precourt Institute at the start of this year. In 2008 he showed that silicon nanowires can significantly boost the performance of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries. This triggered global interest in nanotechnology for energy storage and resulted in his founding of the startup Amprius, Inc. Cui and the large group of student scientists in his lab also research other means of storing electricity, solar power technologies, and clothing that warms a body amid cold and cools amid heat, among other nanoengineered applications.

Cui was born in Guangxi, an autonomous region of China, in 1976, and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of Science & Technology of China. He completed his doctorate in physical chemistry at Harvard in 2002 and then became a Miller postdoctoral fellow at the University of California–Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

The Global Energy Association, which manages the prize, received 94 nominations across its three categories, representing 36 countries. Five finalists in each category were announced in July. Zinfer Ismagilov of Russian won the prize for conventional energy this year. Suleyman Allakhverdiev, also of Russia, won the non-conventional energy category.

The winners will accept their prizes in Moscow next month. In addition to receiving a medal, the winners also receive a monetary prize of about $175,000.