Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors



Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Rice's Thomann wins CAREER grant to study photocatalysis: Rice lab's unique spectrometer will shed light on solar-powered CO2 reduction

 Isabell Thomann
CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University
Isabell Thomann

CREDIT: Jeff Fitlow/Rice University

Abstract:
It's difficult to define Rice University scientist Isabell Thomann, whose research encompasses chemistry, optics, electrical engineering, energy and the environment -- just to name a few. But thanks to a prestigious CAREER Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Thomann's got the chance to focus her energies on a five-year quest to explore ways of using sunlight to reduce the carbon footprint of power plants.

Rice's Thomann wins CAREER grant to study photocatalysis: Rice lab's unique spectrometer will shed light on solar-powered CO2 reduction

Houston, TX | Posted on June 19th, 2014

"We are interested in improving photocatalysis, a class of processes in which we use light to drive chemical reactions," Thomann said. "This grant will focus on the reduction of carbon dioxide using sunlight, but the methods that we study in our lab can be broadly applied across many disciplines."

CAREER Awards are among the NSF's most competitive. Only about 400 are given each year across all disciplines. The awards, which include $400,000 in research funding, are given to "junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations," according to the NSF.

Thomann holds joint appointments in Rice's departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Chemistry, and Materials Science and NanoEngineering. One facet of her work focuses on designing and testing photocatalytic nanomaterials -- tiny bits of matter that interact with light to foster chemical reactions.

"Typically in a chemical reaction, you have a reactant, or chemical input A, that is used to produce a chemical product B," Thomann said. "It's rare that a reaction goes directly from A to B. Often there are a number of short-lived, intermediate chemicals that are produced in between. We would like to better understand what these short-lived intermediates are so we can better control the output of the chemical reactions."

One reason intermediate chemicals are often overlooked and poorly studied is that they exist for a short time -- sometimes just a fraction of a second -- before they are consumed by a subsequent reaction.

"Probing these is a real challenge because of the fast timescales involved," Thomann said. "We are developing an ultrafast laser spectroscopy system that, in essence, allows us to take a movie of the short-lived chemical intermediates as they come and go."

The spectrograph can read the optical signatures of molecules. These act like fingerprints that her team can use to determine exactly which intermediates are present and in what concentration at any point throughout the reaction. By running repeated tests under a variety of reaction conditions, Thomann's team hopes to learn how to optimize the efficiency and selectivity of chemical reactions.

"We are building this tunable laser source with lots of different colors because not every reaction is alike," Thomann said. "With this tunable laser system, we can shine light of any color to study different chemicals."

In the case of carbon dioxide, the research could allow chemical engineers to optimize solar-powered CO2 conversion systems for a variety of different parameters.

"Every application is a bit different, and this is the kind of knowledge engineers need to meet a specific challenge," she said. "In one case, the limiting factor might be the upfront cost of building the system. In another instance, the engineer might be more interested in optimizing output. In each case, it is important to understand exactly how the reaction takes place."

Thomann said energy and green chemistry are but two of the research themes in her lab.

"We are definitely interested in materials for energy applications, particularly for those involving solar photocatalysis," Thomann said. "But energy is just one of the big challenges of our day. There are also other challenges in sensing and in health. Over time, we aim to be part of solving or helping to solve other grand challenges through the use of nanophotonics."

####

About Rice University
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,920 undergraduates and 2,567 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6.3-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations on Twitter @RiceUNews.

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
David Ruth
713-348-6327


Jade Boyd
713-348-6778

Copyright © Rice University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related Links

A copy of the NSF grant abstract is available here:

Related News Press

News and information

NREL Announces New Center Directors to lead R&D, Analysis Efforts September 30th, 2014

Yale University and Leica Microsystems Partner to Establish Microscopy Center of Excellence: Yale Welcomes Scientists to Participate in Core Facility Opening and Super- Resolution Workshops October 20 Through 31, 2014 September 30th, 2014

Speed at its limits September 30th, 2014

Research mimics brain cells to boost memory power September 30th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

NREL Announces New Center Directors to lead R&D, Analysis Efforts September 30th, 2014

A Heartbeat Away? Hybrid "Patch" Could Replace Transplants: TAU researcher harnesses gold nanoparticles to engineer novel biocompatible cardiac patch September 30th, 2014

How things coil: Researchers discover that simulation technology designed for Hollywood can be used as a predictive tool for understanding fundamental engineering problems September 29th, 2014

UT Arlington researchers develop transparent nanoscintillators for radiation detection for medical safety and homeland security September 29th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Rice launches Center for Quantum Materials: RCQM will immerse global visitors in cross-disciplinary research September 30th, 2014

How things coil: Researchers discover that simulation technology designed for Hollywood can be used as a predictive tool for understanding fundamental engineering problems September 29th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Determine Grain Size, Minimize Time of Nanocomposite Synthesis September 29th, 2014

Nanoparticles Used to Improve Quality of Bone Cement September 29th, 2014

Announcements

Park Systems Announces Outsourced Analytical Services Including AFM Surface Imaging, Data Analysis and Interpretation September 30th, 2014

Ad-REIC vaccine: A magic bullet for cancer treatment September 30th, 2014

New Topical Hemostatic Agent: Neutral Self-Assembling Peptide Hydrogel September 30th, 2014

Chemical interactions between silver nanoparticles and thiols: A comparison of mercaptohexanol again September 30th, 2014

Environment

On the Road to Artificial Photosynthesis: Berkeley Lab Study Reveals Key Catalytic Factors in Carbon Dioxide Reduction September 25th, 2014

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology September 25th, 2014

Quick Method Found for Synthesis of Organic Compounds with Less Pollution September 25th, 2014

Iranian Nano Scientists Create Flame-Resistant Polymers September 13th, 2014

Energy

Production of Anticorrosive Chromate Nanocoatings in Iran September 27th, 2014

University of Electro-Communications research: High density quantum dots for powerful solar cells September 25th, 2014

On the Road to Artificial Photosynthesis: Berkeley Lab Study Reveals Key Catalytic Factors in Carbon Dioxide Reduction September 25th, 2014

Solar cell compound probed under pressure September 25th, 2014

Grants/Awards/Scholarships/Gifts/Contests/Honors/Records

A Heartbeat Away? Hybrid "Patch" Could Replace Transplants: TAU researcher harnesses gold nanoparticles to engineer novel biocompatible cardiac patch September 30th, 2014

Teijin Aramidís carbon nanotube fibers awarded with Paul Schlack prize: New generation super fibers bring wave of innovations to fiber market September 25th, 2014

New chip promising for tumor-targeting research September 22nd, 2014

SouthWest NanoTechnologies (SWeNT) Receives NIST Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 Award to Produce Greater than 99% Semiconducting Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes September 19th, 2014

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

Speed at its limits September 30th, 2014

'Pixel' engineered electronics have growth potential: Rice, Oak Ridge, Vanderbilt, Penn scientists lead creation of atom-scale semiconducting composites September 29th, 2014

Southampton scientists grow a new challenger to graphene September 23rd, 2014

Engineers show light can play seesaw at the nanoscale: Discovery is another step toward faster and more energy-efficient optical devices for computation and communication September 22nd, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

University of Electro-Communications research: High density quantum dots for powerful solar cells September 25th, 2014

On the Road to Artificial Photosynthesis: Berkeley Lab Study Reveals Key Catalytic Factors in Carbon Dioxide Reduction September 25th, 2014

Solar cell compound probed under pressure September 25th, 2014

Quick Method Found for Synthesis of Organic Compounds with Less Pollution September 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE