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Alumni: Giving U of T more reasons to be proud

Alumni Portraits
Tom Rodinger
Current Industry: Business, Science & Technology
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2007, Biochemistry

In 2005 Tom Rodinger and some fellow U of T students including Gimmy Chu built solar-powered cars that raced across the U.S. and Australia. He says it is where “we discovered our passion for green technology.”

Rodinger and Chu separated after graduation but in 2009 met again, and it led to the creation of Nanoleaf, a green technology company dedicated to creating “a better world through conservation and to preserve the planet that we love.” Another U of T grad, Christian Yan, is also part of the team, now based in China and involved in designing and manufacturing several new products for Europe.

The company’s first product to hit the market was the Nanoleaf LED light bulb, which is proclaimed to be the most energy efficient in the world.  It uses only 12 watts of electricity and can last 30,000 hours, or about three hours a day for 25 years.  It was launched on the website and raised more than $270,000 in start-up money through crowd funding.

Rodinger says U of T provided him with “tons of resources. The professors had open doors and you could come and talk to them about any problems. They are the top people in the country.”

He is the “technology solutions architect” with Nanoleaf and has also worked in the biotechnology industry as a scientist, developing new innovative algorithms for predicting drug effectiveness against cancer and lupus diseases. He is now focusing on creating solar energy products that will bring green energy to remote areas and developing nations.

Rodinger said the “ultimate goal” of Nanoleaf is to make products that bring more convenience to our lives but at the same time develop them “so that the world we live in is better, greener and sustainable.” The Nanoleaf light bulb fits into a standard lamp socket, switches on immediately, creates a pleasant glow and is cool to the touch. Using it can save up to 88 per cent of electricity than incandescent bulbs and thus lead to a dramatic decrease in power costs.

The bulbs can be ordered from in the U.S. and the Nanoleaf web store in Canada, Europe and Asia.  They cost $35 each.

When not trying to save the world one invention at a time, Rodinger takes on other high-risk adventures — he is a rock climbing aficionado.

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