Solar Energy and Sustainability
The increase in demand in alternate energy sources to replace the use of fossil fuels has created a great interest in developing novel materials for solar energy capture, conversion and storage. Similarly, there is a vast area of evolving research to use solar energy based photocatalysis to convert carbon dioxide in the methanol. The research groups of Heagy and Ranasinghe are focused on developing novel materials for these technologies and investigating their photophysical properties. They utilize modern synthesis and state of the art instrumentations such as femtosecond time-resolved fluorescence upconversion, time correlated single photon counting, steady state fluorescence, UV-VIS absorption, solar simulators and other instrumentation to conduct research in this field.
Professor Rubasinghege and his group is centered on discovering hidden reaction pathways on complex environmental surfaces including components of mineral dust, sea ice, urban snow, and polar stratospheric clouds. His team deals with heterogeneous chemistry and photochemistry of these processes in search of molecular level insights that are essential to reveal global processes - climate, biogeochemistry and environmental toxicology, implications of nanotechnology on environment, and find remediation to environmental issues.
Dr. Gao is broadly interested in the design, synthesis, characterization, and applications of new functional materials. He focuses on leveraging nanospace for energy-related critical issues at the interface of organometallic and materials chemistry. The confined nanospace within porous materials, including metal-organic frameworks, covalent organic frameworks, and organic cages, provides unlimited opportunities and intriguing tools to interrogate fundamental questions in a variety of areas. Students working in Dr. Gao's lab will gain expertise in various facets of synthetic inorganic and material chemistry. They will become skilled at using NMR, mass spectroscopy, FT-IR, gas adsorption, UV-vis spectroscopy, and X-ray diffraction methods to characterize their materials. They have opportunities to access Synchrotron radiation to investigate their material structures. They are encouraged to attend local and national conferences to disseminate their most exciting results.