2015-16 Graduate Fellows

Michael Enright

The global population is expected to reach 9.6 billion people by 2050. Assuming economic growth continues, this will lead to a 14-20 TW increase in demand for energy beyond what is currently produced. Development of inexpensive and efficient light-harvesting materials is vital for reaching future renewable energy demands and reducing our carbon footprint. With 120,000 TW of sunlight striking the earth’s surface, solar energy is the most abundant clean energy source available and has the potential to help achieve global energy needs. My research explores the direct conversion of solar energy into renewable fuels, such as hydrogen. I am using inorganic synthetic techniques to construct a type II nanorod-catalyst composite capable of facilitating the reduction of water to hydrogen fuel. Electrons in type II nanorods become excited in the presence of sunlight and migrate to the energetically more favorable ends of the rod. I intend to develop techniques for selectively attaching catalysts to the surfaces of the nanorod ends and use the excited electrons to catalytically reduce protons to hydrogen fuel. Ultimately, these type II nanorods can be used to construct more photoelectrochemical devices.

Advisor: Brandi M. Cossairt, Chemistry

“Providing clean energy to the inhabitants of our planet is a major challenge to future generations. The University of Washington is to be congratulated for establishing an Institute where faculty and students can work together to tackle the difficult global challenge of energy sustainability.”
– Mildred Dresselhaus, Professor of Physics and Electrical Engineering, Emerita and Institute Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
“Energy competition is opening up in a variety of ways, the push for carbon control will continue, and the rate of technology advancement is exponential. All the things I’ve seen at the CEI are just perfect for the way we see things going in energy. You guys are at the cutting edge. We’re counting on you.”
– Ronald Litzinger, President, Edison Energy