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Intelligent Input Parser for Organic Chemistry Reagent Questions

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Due to its difficult nature, organic chemistry is receiving much research attention across the nation to develop more efficient and effective means to teach it. As part of that, Dr. Ian Gould at ASU is developing an online organic chemistry

Due to its difficult nature, organic chemistry is receiving much research attention across the nation to develop more efficient and effective means to teach it. As part of that, Dr. Ian Gould at ASU is developing an online organic chemistry educational website that provides help to students, adapts to their responses, and collects data about their performance. This thesis creative project addresses the design and implementation of an input parser for organic chemistry reagent questions, to appear on his website. After students used the form to submit questions throughout the Spring 2013 semester in Dr. Gould's organic chemistry class, the data gathered from their usage was analyzed, and feedback was collected. The feedback obtained from students was positive, and suggested that the input parser accomplished the educational goals that it sought to meet.

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2013-05

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Synthesis and photophysical characterization of an artificial photosynthetic reaction center exhibiting acid-responsive regulation of charge separation

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Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) is a photoprotective regulatory mechanism essential to the robustness of the photosynthetic apparatus of green plants. Energy flow within the low-light adapted reaction centers is dynamically optimized to match the continuously fluctuating light conditions found in nature.

Non-photochemical quenching (NPQ) is a photoprotective regulatory mechanism essential to the robustness of the photosynthetic apparatus of green plants. Energy flow within the low-light adapted reaction centers is dynamically optimized to match the continuously fluctuating light conditions found in nature. Activated by compartmentalized decreases in pH resulting from photosynthetic activity during periods of elevated photon flux, NPQ induces rapid thermal dissipation of excess excitation energy that would otherwise overwhelm the apparatus’s ability to consume it. Consequently, the frequency of charge separation decreases and the formation of potentially deleterious, high-energy intermediates slows, thereby reducing the threat of photodamage by disallowing their accumulation. Herein is described the synthesis and photophysical analysis of a molecular triad that mimics the effects of NPQ on charge separation within the photosynthetic reaction centers. Steady-state absorption and emission, time-resolved fluorescence, and transient absorption spectroscopies were used to demonstrate reversible quenching of the first singlet excited state affecting the quantum yield of charge separation by approximately one order of magnitude. As in the natural system, the populations of unquenched and quenched states and, therefore, the overall yields of charge separation were found to be dependent upon acid concentration.

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2015

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Experimental and computational studies on the design of dyes for water-splitting dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical tandem cells

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Solar energy is a promising alternative for addressing the world's current and future energy requirements in a sustainable way. Because solar irradiation is intermittent, it is necessary to store this energy in the form of a fuel so it can

Solar energy is a promising alternative for addressing the world's current and future energy requirements in a sustainable way. Because solar irradiation is intermittent, it is necessary to store this energy in the form of a fuel so it can be used when required. The light-driven splitting of water into oxygen and hydrogen (a useful chemical fuel) is a fascinating theoretical and experimental challenge that is worth pursuing because the advance of the knowledge that it implies and the availability of water and sunlight. Inspired by natural photosynthesis and building on previous work from our laboratory, this dissertation focuses on the development of water-splitting dye-sensitized photoelectrochemical tandem cells (WSDSPETCs). The design, synthesis, and characterization of high-potential porphyrins and metal-free phthalocyanines with phosphonic anchoring groups are reported. Photocurrents measured for WSDSPETCs made with some of these dyes co-adsorbed with molecular or colloidal catalysts on TiO2 electrodes are reported as well. To guide in the design of new molecules we have used computational quantum chemistry extensively. Linear correlations between calculated frontier molecular orbital energies and redox potentials were built and tested at multiple levels of theory (from semi-empirical methods to density functional theory). Strong correlations (with r2 values > 0.99) with very good predictive abilities (rmsd < 50 mV) were found when using density functional theory (DFT) combined with a continuum solvent model. DFT was also used to aid in the elucidation of the mechanism of the thermal relaxation observed for the charge-separated state of a molecular triad that mimics the photo-induced proton coupled electron transfer of the tyrosine-histidine redox relay in the reaction center of Photosystem II. It was found that the inclusion of explicit solvent molecules, hydrogen bonded to specific sites within the molecular triad, was essential to explain the observed thermal relaxation. These results are relevant for both advancing the knowledge about natural photosynthesis and for the future design of new molecules for WSDSPETCs.

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2014