Solar energy conversion, Artificial Photosynthesis, solar fuels- hydrogen and oxygen by water splitting and reduction of carbon dioxide to hydrocarbons, Proton Coupled Electron Transfer (PCET) with applications in chemistry, energy conversion, catalysis and biology, photophysics and photochemistry in thin films and at interfaces.
Ph.D.,Stanford University(1966); B.S., Ohio University(1963)
The most pressing issue facing mankind in the 21st century is creating a new energy future based on new energy sources, more efficient use of existing energy sources, and minimizing environmental impact. The ultimate renewable energy source is the sun with several approaches available for solar energy conversion. Two high risk, high reward approaches are solar fuels, with production of hydrogen and oxygen from water or reduction of carbon dioxide to hydrocarbons, and high efficiency organic and composite thin film photovoltaic devices. These areas provide the basis for much of the current research, which is carried out largely in the UNC Energy Frontier Research Center on Solar Fuels.
PCET, reactions in which both electrons and protons are transferred, plays an important role in catalysis and energy conversion in chemistry and biology. There are important examples in photosynthesis and respiration. PCET provides the basis for single electron activation of multi-electron transfer catalysis and simultaneous electron-proton transfer (EPT) is used to avoid high energy intermediates. We are exploring the role of PCET in three areas: