Analysis of natural and synthetic systems for photo-initiated water splitting

Mark, Brian
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Hedden, Ronald, C
Karande, Pankaj
Chakrapani, Vidhya
Lakshmi, K. V.
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Chemical engineering
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The search for new sustainable energy sources has seen a substantial increase inattention as our current reliance on fossil fuels reaches a critical point in terms of supply and environmental impact. One promising avenue to sustainable energy is through the electrolytic splitting of water using solar light as an energy source. The work for this thesis focuses on exploring two different materials with the potential to perform and elucidate the water splitting reaction: benzimidazole phenol-porphyrin (BiP-PF10) and manganese oxides (MnOx). BiP-PF10 serves as a bio-mimic, modeling the oxygen-evolving complex (OEC) of photosystem II (PSII) in plants and cyanobacteria and the proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) mechanism it uses for water splitting. Analysis of the PCET intermediate of BiP-PF10 led to the determination of the electronic environment during PCET, providing insight on further attempts to synthesize this reaction. Manganese is present in many photocatalytic compounds, so a study on manganese oxides, especially Mn2O3, would help us understand some of the mechanisms of water splitting. The results of the manganese oxide experiments are preliminary and show promise in terms of future analysis.
May 2021
School of Engineering
Dept. of Chemical and Biological Engineering
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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