Chemistry Department Seminar: Tenure Track Candidate
"Shining a Light on Fuel Production: Designing Photocathodes for Photoelectrochemical CO2 Reduction"
Due to the negative anthropogenic impacts of climate change on our society, renewable energy technologies must be realized and implemented. One challenging aspect of enabling these technologies is energy storage, where energy must be stored as electrical or chemical potential for later use. Converting readily available feedstock chemicals, like CO2, into more energy-dense, commodity chemicals and fuels has the potential to solve these problems. This seminar will describe the process of photoelectrocatalysis, which combines the use of sunlight and electricity to sustainably perform chemical reactions, and highlight a stable and efficient photoelectrochemical platform that enables CO2 reduction. This target platform uses a modified silicon semiconductor electrode with different metal oxide material coatings to improve stability and charge transfer capabilities, alongside a molecular catalyst that can selectively perform CO2 reduction. Through careful tuning of this platform, we have developed a photoelectrode system that can convert CO2 to methanol with almost 20% efficiency. A variety of additional considerations, such as metal oxide coating identity, deposition method, and electrochemical conditions will further be discussed, each of which exhibits significant impact on the performance of the photoelectrode assembly. Overall, this investigation has shown a promising pathway to improving photoelectrode selectivity and performance, with our goal to realize other energy-dense fuels, such as ethanol.
*This seminar counts towards the chemistry major seminar attendance requirement.