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

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Leica Microsystems Presents Universal Hybrid Detector for Single Molecule Detection and Imaging at SfN and ASCB: Leica HyD SMD - the Optimal Detector for Precise and Reliable SMD data November 20th, 2014

Silver Nanoparticles Produced in Iran from Forest Plants Extract November 20th, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014

Quantum mechanical calculations reveal the hidden states of enzyme active sites November 20th, 2014

NRL Scientists Discover Novel Metamaterial Properties within Hexagonal Boron Nitride November 20th, 2014

Materials/Metamaterials

Sustainable Nanotechnologies Project November 20th, 2014

Total Nanofiber Solutions Company FibeRio® Launches The Fiber Engine® FX Series Systems with 10X Increase in Output November 18th, 2014

Nanocomposites Strengthen Bone Implants November 13th, 2014

Production of Magnetic Nanoparticles with New Structures in Iran November 13th, 2014

Announcements

NMTI announces breakthrough solutions for HAMR nanoantenna for next-generation ultra-high density magnetic storage November 21st, 2014

Leica Microsystems Presents Universal Hybrid Detector for Single Molecule Detection and Imaging at SfN and ASCB: Leica HyD SMD - the Optimal Detector for Precise and Reliable SMD data November 20th, 2014

Silver Nanoparticles Produced in Iran from Forest Plants Extract November 20th, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Environment

Silver Nanoparticles Produced in Iran from Forest Plants Extract November 20th, 2014

Nano Sorbents Able to Remove Pollutions Caused by Oil Derivatives November 20th, 2014

Application of Nanocomposites in Production of Photocatalysts for Water Treatment November 17th, 2014

BRAAVOO will design an unmanned surveying vessel and marine buoy that carry biosensors to monitor marine pollutants November 12th, 2014

Energy

UO-industry collaboration points to improved nanomaterials: University of Oregon microscope puts spotlight on the surface structure of quantum dots for designing new solar devices November 20th, 2014

Eight19 secures £1m funding: Investment to develop production technology, and expand commercial activities for organic photovoltaics November 19th, 2014

Total Nanofiber Solutions Company FibeRio® Launches The Fiber Engine® FX Series Systems with 10X Increase in Output November 18th, 2014

Researchers create & control spin waves, lifting prospects for enhanced info processing November 17th, 2014

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

SUNY Poly Student Awarded Fellowship with the U.S. Department of Energy's Postgraduate Research Program: Ph.D. Candidate Accepts Postmaster's Appointment To Conduct Research At Albany NanoTech Complex November 13th, 2014

MEMS Industry Group's 10th Annual Executive Conference Showcases Rapid Innovation in MEMS/Sensors: Emphasizes Spirit of Collaboration, Supporting First Open-Source Algorithm Community, New Standardization Efforts November 10th, 2014

Microrockets fueled by water neutralize chemical and biological warfare agents October 29th, 2014

New nanodevice to improve cancer treatment monitoring October 27th, 2014

Photonics/Optics/Lasers

NRL Scientists Discover Novel Metamaterial Properties within Hexagonal Boron Nitride November 20th, 2014

Penn engineers efficiently 'mix' light at the nanoscale November 17th, 2014

'Direct writing' of diamond patterns from graphite a potential technological leap November 5th, 2014

Outsmarting Thermodynamics in Self-assembly of Nanostructures: Berkeley Lab reports method for symmetry-breaking in feedback-driven self-assembly of optical metamaterials November 4th, 2014

Solar/Photovoltaic

UO-industry collaboration points to improved nanomaterials: University of Oregon microscope puts spotlight on the surface structure of quantum dots for designing new solar devices November 20th, 2014

Eight19 secures £1m funding: Investment to develop production technology, and expand commercial activities for organic photovoltaics November 19th, 2014

Graphene/nanotube hybrid benefits flexible solar cells: Rice University labs create novel electrode for dye-sensitized cells November 17th, 2014

New materials for more powerful solar cells: Major breakthrough in solar energy November 11th, 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