6/14/2017 -
We have another successful defense! Congrats Dr. Epley!

2/1/2017 - Cherie's first paper accepted! And... selected for the cover! Awesome!

12/23/2016 -
Jennifer's first paper accepted! Way to go Jen!

11/22/2016 -
Dr. Morris selected to receive the I-APS Young Investigator Award. Proud to be part of such a supportive community!

10/24/2016 -
Shaoyang's first paper accepted to ChemSusChem! Way to go Shaoyang!

10/6/2016 -
Pavel and Spencer's paper accepted to J. Mater. Chem. - Check it out! Water oxidation with MOFs!

9/11/2016 -
Dr. Morris (Invited Speaker) and Pavel present research at MOF 2016. Great time meeting people in the MOF community!

8/26/2016 -
Carlos Landaverde-Alvarado defends his PhD!

8/17/2016 -
Cherie chosen to receive Graduate School Doctoral Assistantship Award! Congrats!






 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Research

The finite supply of fossil fuels and the possible environmental impact of such energy sources has garnered the scientific community’s attention for the development of alternative, overall carbon-neutral fuel sources. The sun provides enough energy every hour and a half to power the earth for a year. However, two of the remaining challenges that limit the utilization of solar energy are the development of cheap and efficient solar harvesting materials and advances in energy storage technology. In my lab, research pulls knowledge from various areas of chemistry and techniques to find solutions to two aspects of solar energy conversion: Artificial Photosynthesis and Next Generation Solar Cells.

Artificial Photosynthesis – An Approach to Solar Energy Storage

Artificial Photosynthesis

Natural photosynthetic systems utilize the sun’s energy to transform CO2 and H2O into carbohydrates, nature’s stored solar fuel. Artificial photosynthetic systems that can oxidize H2O and reduce CO2 efficiently to a fuel could represent the breakthrough solar power needs to become a viable energy source. Photocatalysis of this kind is most efficient if the rate of catalytic activity is greater than or equal to the solar flux (the rate at which photons hit the earth’s surface). To date, there exist no catalysts that have both the high active surface area and solar absorptivity necessary to meet this requirement. Students in my laboratory utilize high surface area metal-organic framework (MOF) catalysts coupled to strong light absorbers, for example single crystal semiconductors, to drive the H2O oxidation and CO2 reduction reactions.

Aspects of this work are funded in part by the Department of Energy and National Science Foundation.

Next Generation Solar Cells:

In addition to the development of new photocatalytic assemblies, more efficient and economical direct solar-to-electric cells are needed. Specifically, we investigate new architectures for solar cells beyond traditional p-n junctions such as sensitized wide band gap semiconductor solar cells. Our efforts are focused in two specific cell types: quantum dot sensitized solar cells and hybrid bulk heterojunction solar cells. Both cells although theoretically promising have yet to reach competitive efficiencies. For quantum dot sensitized cells, this results from the lack of a suitable regenerative redox mediator necessary to transmit charge between electrodes.  The Morris group aims to exploit the fundamental electronic properties of inorganic compounds to develop efficient mediators that promote maximum charge collection in these “Generation III” solar cells.

QDSSC

Techniques:

The research conducted in my labs exists at the intersection of many areas of chemistry (inorganic, organic, materials, analytical, environmental, energy, and nanoscience).  There is the opportunity to tune your research project to your interests be they synthetic (inorganic, organic, and/or materials) or measurement-focused (physical and analytical).  The techniques heavily utilized for all projects are:

  • Electrochemistry (cyclic voltammetry, chronoamperometry, bulk electrolysis),

  • Spectroscopy (including pulsed laser techniques),

  • Surface-probing techniques (attenuated total reflectance infrared spectroscopy (ATR-IR), x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)), and

  • Materials characterization techniques (scanning electron microscopy (SEM), transmission electron microscopy (TEM), x-ray diffraction (XRD)).