Artificial Photosynthesis is a promising mechanism through which clean, renewable energy can be generated. Photosynthesis allows a plant to synthesize glucose to use as fuel. Instead of generating glucose as a final product, artificial photosynthesis generates hydrogen. The mechanism involves a chromophore, a semiconductor, and an electrocatalyst (Fig. 1). When sunlight hits a chromophore, an electron becomes excited. This electron is then transferred to a semiconductor, which then transfers the electron to an electrocatalyst. The electrocatalyst reduces the protons naturally found in water to generate hydrogen gas. Over the summer, I will be researching a cobalt complex that will act as an electrocatalyst. Cobalt is earth abundant and has low cost, which will ultimately lower the cost of this mechanism. The cobalt complex itself is inspired by a similar iron complex previously synthesized in my research lab. Specifically, I will be running organic syntheses in order to create the ligand so that I may later complex it with cobalt. This will then yield the electrocatalyst. Once synthesized, I will then analyze it using electrochemical experiments to observe its stability and efficiency. Hydrogen can be introduced into a fuel cell to generate energy, releasing water vapor as waste. Making this process cost effective and efficient may eventually turn it into a promising alternative energy source.
I will be producing a small molecule library of small molecules, specifically bisacetylenes, with varying functionalities that will be tested on miRNAs with the hypothesis that they will have some effect of the regulation of miRNA’s. The misregulation of miRNAs has been attributed to the cause of various cancers and diseases; therefore, being able to fix this misregulation has become a major scientific inquiry in the world of cancer research.
It’s been about two weeks since I have left Ireland, add a few more days and it has been almost three weeks since I left Achill Island. I haven’t had any huge culture shock, but I do greatly miss my field school. When you wake up to a house of fourteen other college students and travel to an archaeological excavation site at precisely 8:45AM for six weeks, it’s strange to find yourself getting out of bed into a quiet apartment without a mountain climb awaiting you. Results from the excavation site have not been released to my group of students yet, but the Facebook group said they will post them soon.
Monday, August 6 – Friday, August 10
The last week of Achill Field School went by in a flash. Besides the usual scraping back more layers of dirt and cutting further into the middle section of rocks, there were a few new interesting things for me to do on site. In one section of dark brown dirt running down the side of the middle rock section, Rory had me cut a square hole. He told me to dig until the reddish orange material appeared. Once we knew how deep to go, it was faster to scrape the rest of the dark brown strip back. Rory told us to keep our eyes out for a piece of pottery in the dark brown material because then we could plausibly match this context to another dark brown material present in another part of the site that yielded pottery. We did not, however, find anything. Something frustrating about the pottery piece found in the other dark brown section was that the pottery found came from a modern century. The modernity coupled withthe depth at which the dark brown material occurred means that the site is probably not Neolithic, thus not a tomb. There was still a lot more digging to do when the week was over for the eventual new kids, so I still hold hope!