Nanotechnology Now





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

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

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Materials/Metamaterials

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Announcements

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Engineering Phase Changes in Nanoparticle Arrays: Scientists alter attractive and repulsive forces between DNA-linked particles to make dynamic, phase-shifting forms of nanomaterials May 25th, 2015

Nanostructures Increase Corrosion Resistance in Metallic Body Implants May 24th, 2015

Environment

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

Directa Plus in Barcelona to present the innovative project GEnIuS for oil spills clean-up activities: The company has created a graphene-based product for the remediation of water contaminated by oil and hydrocarbons May 21st, 2015

Nano-policing pollution May 13th, 2015

Chemists strike nano-gold: 4 new atomic structures for gold nanoparticle clusters: Research builds upon work by Nobel Prize-winning team from Stanford University April 28th, 2015

Energy

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

Visualizing How Radiation Bombardment Boosts Superconductivity: Atomic-level flyovers show how impact sites of high-energy ions pin potentially disruptive vortices to keep high-current superconductivity flowing May 23rd, 2015

Conversion of Greenhouse Gases to Syngas in Presence of Nanocatalysts in Iran May 22nd, 2015

Sandia researchers first to measure thermoelectric behavior by 'Tinkertoy' materials May 20th, 2015

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

One step closer to a single-molecule device: Columbia Engineering researchers first to create a single-molecule diode -- the ultimate in miniaturization for electronic devices -- with potential for real-world applications May 25th, 2015

What makes cancer cells spread? New device offers clues May 19th, 2015

Researchers build new fermion microscope: Instrument freezes and images 1,000 individual fermionic atoms at once May 13th, 2015

International and U.S. Students and Teachers Headed to Toronto for 34th Annual International Space Development Conference®: Students competed in prestigious NSS-NASA Ames Space Settlement Design Contest May 9th, 2015

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

DNA Double Helix Does Double Duty in Assembling Arrays of Nanoparticles: Synthetic pieces of biological molecule form framework and glue for making nanoparticle clusters and arrays May 25th, 2015

This Slinky lookalike 'hyperlens' helps us see tiny objects: The photonics advancement could improve early cancer detection, nanoelectronics manufacturing and scientists' ability to observe single molecules May 23rd, 2015

Samtec, Global Provider of Interconnect Systems, Joins IRT Nanoelec Silicon Photonics Program May 21st, 2015

Taking control of light emission: Researchers find a way of tuning light waves by pairing 2 exotic 2-D materials May 20th, 2015

Solar/Photovoltaic

Efficiency record for black silicon solar cells jumps to 22.1 percent: Aalto University's researchers improved their previous record by over 3 absolute percents in cooperation with Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya May 18th, 2015

Wearables may get boost from boron-infused graphene: Rice U. researchers flex muscle of laser-written microsupercapacitors May 18th, 2015

Random nanowire configurations increase conductivity over heavily ordered configurations May 16th, 2015

ORNL demonstrates first large-scale graphene fabrication May 14th, 2015

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