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Research with Dr. Darren Achey

The urgent global need for the capture and conversion of reliable energy compels the proposed research.  As world population grows and standards of living increase, additional energy production is required.  Energy derived from fossil fuels can meet this demand, but thelectron transportese sources have adverse environmental effects.1  Therefore, extracting clean energy from the abundant power of the sun imparts significant utility.  Ideally, solar power is stored as chemical bonds, allowing for power consumption to be decoupled from power generation.  One strategy to accomplish this is to use an assembly of molecular chromophores and catalysts functionalized on semiconductors to both oxidize water and reduce CO2 (or H+) to a useful fuel product, Figure 1.2-7  Our group performs basic research on three aspects of such devices:  development of unique strategies for reductive catalysis utilizing inexpensive molecular species capable of multielectron reactivity (green); overcoming unwanted charge recombination through rational approaches to separating multiple charges (red); and the establishment of nanoscale semiconductor electronic properties when functionalized by molecular components (blue).  If successful, these fundamental advances would prove valuable in the development of solar fuel devices.

Students in the Achey Lab gain proficiency in the characterization of molecular species via UV-Vis, NMR, infrared, and fluorescence spectroscopies, electrochemical measurements, product analysis via GC-MS, and synthesis of organic and inorganic molecules as well as nanomaterials.  Prime research directives

  1. Reductive catalysis by coordination compounds with redox active ligands functionalized on metal oxide semiconductors.
  2. Control of photochemically induced separation and transport of charges in nanostructured semiconductor thin film/molecular systems.
  3. Quantify electrochemical and spectroscopic properties of semiconductor materials functionalized with molecular components.


1. Energy Information Administration, Annual Energy Outlook.US Dept. of Energy, W. DC, Ed. 2012.
2. Lewis, N. S.; Nocera, D. G., PNAS 2006, 103, 15729-15735.
3. Youngblood, W. J.; Lee, S.-H. A.; Maeda, K.; Mallouk, T. E., Acc. Chem. Res. 2009, 42, 1966-1973.
4. Youngblood, W. J.; Lee, S.-H. A.; Kobayashi, Y.; Hernandez-Pagan, E. A.; Hoertz, P. G.; Moore, T. A.; Moore, A. L.; Gust, D.; Mallouk, T. E., J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2009, 131, 926-927.
5. Zhao, Y.; Swierk, J. R.; Megiatto Jr., J. D.; Sherman, B.; Youngblood, W. J.; Qin, D.; Lentz, D. M.; Moore, A. L.; Moore, T. A.; Gust, D.; Mallouk, T. E., PNAS 2012.
6. Nocera, D. G., Acc. Chem. Res. 2012.
7. Surendranath, Y.; Bediako, D. K.; Nocera, D. G., PNAS 2012.