Date Thesis Awarded

4-2017

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)

Department

Chemistry

Advisor

William R. McNamara

Committee Member

M. Brennan Harris

Committee Member

Deborah C. Bebout

Committee Member

Elizabeth J. Harbron

Abstract

Artificial Photosynthesis (AP) is a method of harnessing solar energy to generate clean burning hydrogen fuel. It relies on combining catalysts with chromophores to split water and store energy in the chemical bonds of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas. A successful device for AP will produce hydrogen when it is submerged in water and irradiated with visible light. Light excites a chromophore, promoting an electron into the conduction band of a semiconductor. An electron is then transferred to a catalyst that will reduce H+ to H2. Hydrogen in its molecular form is particularly useful as a fuel source because burning it produces primarily H2O as a byproduct and does not generate large amounts of CO2, mirroring the use of glucose in plants. The development of a system for hydrogen generation requires the identification of effective catalysts that are efficient, robust, and feasible. We have obtained and characterized three cobalt complexes that are electrochemically active as well as easy and inexpensive to synthesize.

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