The world’s current energy demands are primarily met through fossil fuels. The consumption of this finite fuel source leads to emissions that are extraordinarily harmful for the environment. Solar energy presents itself as a renewable source that can be harvested by state-of-the-art photocatalysts and converted to chemical energy in a clean fashion. Specifically, semiconductor quantum dots synthesized from earth-abundant elements can be utilized as efficient photocatalysts due to their easily tunable redox potentials. My research will focus on using quantum dots as photocatalysts in the selective synthesis of organic compounds, such as hydrocarbon fuels and pharmaceutical drugs. I will also study the functionalization of the nanocrystal surface with electroactive ligands to improve charge carrier transport to substrate species. This approach should improve catalytic efficiency and prevent the photo-degradation that plagues these materials. My work will enable the synthesis of valuable compounds using an abundant energy source under environmentally benign conditions.
Advisor: Brandi Cossairt – Chemistry