AN Oxford-based scientist has been handed £900,000 to research photosynthesis.

Dr Feliciano Giustino of Oxford University’s Department of Materials has received the Leverhulme Research Leadership Award to explore how solar cells inspired by natural photosynthesis harvest the sun’s energy.

The Leverhulme Trust awards only a handful of Research Leadership grants once every few years, and Higher Education Institutions are only allowed to nominate one candidate across all disciplines.

Dr Giustino said: “I would like to use the Leverhulme award to fill the gap between the fundamental science and the technological applications of bio-inspired photovoltaics.

“Given its far-reaching societal implications, solar energy research calls for a multifaceted approach where we ask ourselves two questions at once: what are the fundamental mechanisms of biomimetic light harvesting, and how can we use them to harness energy.”

The Leverhulme Trust was established in 1925 under the will of the first Viscount Leverhulme, William Hesketh Lever.

It is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing funds of about £60m every year.