Dr. Andrew M. Rappe
University of Pennsylvania
Department of Chemistry
Friday, September 22, 2023
Meyerhoff Chemistry Building – Room 120
Host: Dr. Joe Bennett
“Opportunities for Students in Energy Research”
In this talk, I will try to make the case that complex, state of the art challenges that can impact future world energy use are compelling opportunities for the chemistry students of today. I will focus on two areas, photovoltaics and catalysts. In each case I will portray the overall complexity of the problems but then I will suggest that these problems can be tackled a piece at a time, harnessing skills that students learn in their college courses.
Solar energy is the most promising source of renewable, clean energy to replace the current reliance on fossil fuels. Ferroelectric materials have recently attracted increased attention as a candidate
class of materials for use in photovoltaic devices. In this talk, I will discuss new insight into the bulk photovoltaic effect, and materials design to enhance the photovoltaic efficiency. In particular, we use insights from molecular orbital theory to design new materials with greatly enhanced bulk photovoltaic effects.
The production of chemical fuels from CO2 and H2O is a vital challenge that will enable humanity to close the anthropogenic carbon cycle and run energy processes in a carbon-neutral way. I will narrate the many issues that can prevent a surface from being or remaining a good catalyst, and how chemical and physical considerations come together to suggest multicomponent solutions. We will demonstrate recent success in enhancing CO2 adsorption onto surfaces and converting CO2 to propane.