Join the Department of Chemistry and Dr. Amanda Morris as she discusses the finite supply of fossil fuels and the possible environmental impact of such energy sources for the development of alternative, overall carbon-neutral fuel sources. The sun provides enough energy every hour and a half to power human civilization for an entire 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 to overcome the intermittent nature of the sun. In the seminar, the research projects to be discussed focus on the development of an integrated artificial photosynthetic array for solar energy storage. Photosynthetic systems consist of light-harvesting arrays and redox mediators that can funnel the electrochemical potential stored in molecular excited states to catalytic centers to drive the oxidation of water and the reduction of CO2 to sugars. Many artificial approaches to this chemistry have been reported. In the Morris group, we investigate metal organic frameworks (MOFs) as both light harvesters and high surface area catalysts as photosynthetic mimics. MOFs combine the synthetic diversity possible with molecular catalysts and the ease of recovery of heterogeneous catalysis. Theoretically, the high surface area of MOFs can be exploited to produce a higher catalytic rate per geometric area than those realized by other approaches. Additionally, the incorporation of molecular chromophores into networks has been shown to lead to enhanced luminescence quenching. Our studies span the scope of artificial photosynthetic chemistry and include mechanistic investigations of homo-resonance energy transfer, electron transport, and catalysis within MOFs.
Amanda Morris is an Associate Professor of Inorganic and Energy Chemistry at Virginia Tech. She matriculated from Penn State University (B.S.) and Johns Hopkins University (M.S. & PhD). She conducted her postdoctoral work at Princeton University. She has been the recipient of many awards including the Sloan Research Fellowship, the Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award, the Inter-American Photochemical Society Young Investigator Award, the Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellowship, and the Ralph Powe Junior Faculty Award. She currently serves as an American Chemical Society Expert in Sustainable Energy. Her research interests are Artificial Photosynthesis, Next Generation Solar Cells, Metal Organic Frameworks, and Photon Upconversion.