Conclusion

It is crazy how fast these past 10 weeks have gone by.  As we wrap up, I am looking back and I am amazed at how much I have accomplished this summer. I am grateful for the opportunity to work full time. I have been able to focus on my research and push forward with my project. I learned a lot about my lab and what a potential career in research could look like. We will be able to publish on our results this upcoming academic year, which is pretty exciting. We have discovered a photocatalytic system that is comprised of earth abundant metals that is highly active for hydrogen generation from aqueous solutions. We have built this work off previous work in our group. This new work presents a great step forward in our research.

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Heterogeneous Photochemistry: Looking into the Past and Future

Here is my update for the last week or so. The project has caused me to look into the past of the project I am currently on and reflect on the future ahead of me. I’ll start with the past. In the last week, I have set up an experiment with the catalyst under conditions that are known to work. This experiment had very promising results but a flaw in the procedure means this experiment needs to be rerun to make sure the data is reliable. This repeat of the experiment is being set up today and the results are hopefully going to be more consistent since I believe we have found a place in the photochemistry procedure which is a contributor to the inconsistent results. If this experiment fulfills expectations, I will go back to the controls. Ideally, these control experiments will be complete before the school year so that the project is in a good place when I am not working full time anymore.

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Heterogeneous Photochemistry: A Story of Trial and Error

In my last update, I had just started to test our catalyst in photochemistry conditions. Some control experiments had to be repeated and this is what I have been focused on for late June and early July. I have gotten behind with blog posts as I got busy with work so this post will cover late June and early July and my next post will cover the last week or so. These controls are crucial because they verify that the catalyst is the active part of our system, rather than other components. This stage is very important because no one has done this before and we need to know why our system is working. This stage of testing must be completed before this project will be able to move forward.

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Artificial Photosynthesis: Heterogeneous Photochemistry

This summer, I was put on a new project that goes in a different direction. Artificial photosynthesis has many possible potential pathways to generate hydrogen gas; our focus has been on homogeneous systems. Wendy Zhang, the master’s student from Dr. McNamara’s lab, has synthesized a catalyst that can be utilized in heterogeneous photochemistry. My new direction will be to test the capabilities of this heterogeneous system to reduce protons to hydrogen gas.  Heterogeneous photochemistry differs from homogeneous photochemistry by using nanoparticles sensitized with a chromophore and catalyst. Common semiconductors that have been used are TiO2, ZnO, CeO2, CdS and ZnS. By utilizing a compatible set of semiconductor, chromophore and catalyst, hydrogen gas can be harnessed. These systems can be utilized in solar photoreactors. These reactors can have lower cost and be more efficient. Heterogeneous photochemistry provides another avenue of harnessing the sun’s energy.

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Artificial Photosynthesis: Hydrogen Generation via Metal Catalysts

Hello all! My name is Megan Screen and I am rising junior at the college. I am a double major in chemistry and theatre. This summer I will be working in Dr. McNamara’s inorganic chemistry lab, working to further develop methods to harness solar energy in order to generate clean fuel.

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