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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.

Development of Heterogeneous Metallic Nanoparticles as Robust, Light-Weight Hydrogen Storage Materials

A significant challenge for the widespread use of hydrogen as a practical alternative to fossil fuel is the successful development of safe and efficient storage materials for H2. One of the promising candidates, light metal hydride MgH2, suffers from the slow kinetics and high temperatures required for H2 absorption/desorption.

Reduction of Metal Oxides by Microwave Heating of Multi-walled Carbon Nanotubes

Microwave heating of a metal oxide in the presence of multi-walled carbon nanotubes may result in the reduction of the metal oxide to the neutral metal containing a network of carbon nanotubes. This metal matrix composite may have properties with increased the metal hardness, reductions in density, and enhanced electrical and thermal conductivity. 

Nanocasting for a new generation of smart nanodevices

Project is aimed to prepare a new generation of composite nanostructured materials. These nanomaterials will be designed to eventually act as the basis for smart devices that can find applications in catalysis, CO2 capture and conversion, energy storage and transduction, and biomedical fields. Team members will work in the synthesis and characterization of mesoporous materials. They will use a series of analytical methods including powder x-ray diffraction, gas physi- and chimisorption, electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray microscopy.

Nanocasting for a new generation of smart nanodevices

Project is aimed to prepare a new generation of composite nanostructured materials. These nanomaterials will be designed to eventually act as the basis for smart devices that can find applications in catalysis, CO2 capture and conversion, energy storage and transduction, and biomedical fields. Team members will work in the synthesis and characterization of mesoporous materials. They will use a series of analytical methods including powder x-ray diffraction, gas physi- and chimisorption, electron microscopy and energy dispersive x-ray microscopy.

Grazing Incidence X-ray Diffraction and Spectroscopy from Organic Films

The student will participate in hands on X-ray reflectivity and fluorescence experiments from bio-membranes and thin films to determine their structure-function relationship on molecular length scales and overall morphologies.  The duties  of the student will include sample preparations, X-ray scattering experiments,   data analysis, literature search, and writing a summary.  The specific projects will involve the induction of nano-crystal growth at  membrane templates, similar to biomineralization processes in living organisms, and characterization of polymer-

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