Dr. Mario A. Alpuche-Aviles of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Nevada, Reno, is supported by a Career Award from the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry (MSN) program in the NSF Division of Chemistry. The research being conducted involves nanoparticle electron transfer reactions that are of importance in photocatalysis, a process that enables conversion of light into chemical energy. New approaches to their study are being developed with potential application in the design of more efficient energy conversion schemes based on photocatalysis of semiconductor nanoparticles in solution. The long-term goal of the project is to understand the interdependence between photocatalytic properties of semiconductor nanoparticles and nanoparticle size and shape. These photocatalytic properties will be determined from interactions between semiconductor nanoparticles and electrodes with diameter of a few micrometers or less. The work includes (1) measuring photoelectrochemical electron transfer rates of individual nanoparticles; (2) correlating the intrinsic nanoparticle activity with nanoparticle structure; (3) developing computer models of the interactions between colloidal nanoparticles and the working electrode. Subsequent refinements of the methodology will include studies of reactions that hinder efficiency because they compete with the desired photoelectrochemical reactions for energy conversion.
Dr. Alpuche will encourage students to consider careers in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields through the development of hands-on activities for K-12 level. This includes outreach to Hispanic population of Nevada with presentations at K-12 schools with large Hispanic populations.
PUBLICATIONS PRODUCED AS A RESULT OF THIS RESEARCH
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Neluni Perera, Nelum Karunathilake, Pushpa Chhetri and Mario A. Alpuche-Aviles*. "Electrochemical detection and sizing of colloidal ZnO nanoparticles," Analytical Chemistry, 2015.
Pushpa Chhetri, Krishna K. Barakoti, and Mario A. Alpuche-Aviles. "Control of carrier recombination on ZnO nanowires photoelectrochemistry," The Journal of Physical Chemistry C, v.119, 2015, p. 1506.
Suman Parajuli, Pushpa Chhetri, Wess Stephenson and Mario A. Alpuche Aviles. "Synthesis and Preliminary Photoelectrochemical Study of Silver Antimony Sulfide Semiconductor," ECS Transactions, v.58, 2014, p. 53.
Suman Parajuil, Pushpa Chhetri, Krishna Barakoti, Wess Lee Stephenson and Mario A. Alpuche Aviles. "Photoelectrochemical study of pyragyrite in acid media.," Journal of the Electrochemical Society, v.162, 2015, p. H179-H185.
Ashantha Fernando, Suman Parajuli and Mario A. Alpuche Aviles. "Observation of Individual Semiconducting Nanoparticle Collisions by Stochastic Photoelectrochemical Currents," Journal of the American Chemical Society, v.135, 2013, p. 10894.
Ashantha Fernando, Pushpa Chhetri, Krishna K. Barakoti, Suman Parajuli, Rezvan Kazemi and Mario A. Alpuche-Aviles. "Transient Interactions of Agglomerates of Sensitized TiO2 Nanoparticles in Colloidal Suspensions," Journal of the Electrochemical Society, v.163, 2016, p. H3025.