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Nanostructured photocatalysts for green chemistry and sustainable catalysis

Nanoscale materials with precise structure and composition offer unique opportunities in the development of catalytic processes for green and sustainable chemistry. Following a long tradition of successful undergraduate researchers and summer interns in our lab, SULI students in the Vela group will apply principles of nanomaterial synthesis, green chemistry, and catalysis to investigate photochemical transformations of renewable and alternative energy sources, with an emphasis on carbon dioxide (CO2) and biomass-relevant substrates.

The Vela group focuses on the design of distinct, powerful and widely applicable synthetic strategies spanning the continuum between the molecular and nano scales, and that enable effective processing and incorporation of nanomaterials into innovative energy conversion and catalytic technologies. We are particularly interested in the use of hybrid heterostructured nanocomposites as photocatalysts for the selective solar-to-chemical energy conversion of biomass-derived substrates (polyols) into useful chemicals (biopolymers) and fuels (molecular hydrogen).

Mentor: Javier Vela, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Iowa State University