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Synthesis and application of porphyrin, phthalocyanine and perylene chromophores for solar energy conversion

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Photosynthesis, one of the most important processes in nature, has provided an energy basis for nearly all life on Earth, as well as the fossil fuels we use today to power modern society. This research aims to mimic the photosynthetic

Photosynthesis, one of the most important processes in nature, has provided an energy basis for nearly all life on Earth, as well as the fossil fuels we use today to power modern society. This research aims to mimic the photosynthetic process of converting incident solar energy into chemical potential energy in the form of a fuel via systems capable of carrying out photo-induced electron transfer to drive the production of hydrogen from water. Herein is detailed progress in using photo-induced stepwise electron transfer to drive the oxidation of water and reduction of protons to hydrogen. In the design, use of more blue absorbing porphyrin dyes to generate high-potential intermediates for oxidizing water and more red absorbing phthalocyanine dyes for forming the low potential charge needed for the production of hydrogen have been utilized. For investigating water oxidation at the photoanode, high potential porphyrins such as, bis-pyridyl porphyrins and pentafluorophenyl porphyrins have been synthesized and experiments have aimed at the co-immobilization of this dye with an IrO2-nH2O catalyst on TiO2. To drive the cathodic reaction of the water splitting photoelectrochemical cell, utilization of silicon octabutoxy-phthalocyanines have been explored, as they offer good absorption in the red to near infrared, coupled with low potential photo-excited states. Axially and peripherally substituted phthalocyanines bearing carboxylic anchoring groups for the immobilization on semiconductors such as TiO2 has been investigated. Ultimately, this work should culminate in a photoelectrochemical cell capable of splitting water to oxygen and hydrogen with the only energy input from light. A series of perylene dyes bearing multiple semi-conducting metal oxide anchoring groups have been synthesized and studied. Results have shown interfacial electron transfer between these perylenes and TiO2 nanoparticles encapsulated within reverse micelles and naked nanoparticles. The binding process was followed by monitoring the hypsochromic shift of the dye absorption spectra over time. Photoinduced electron transfer from the singlet excited state of the perylenes to the TiO2 conduction band is indicated by emission quenching of the TiO2-bound form of the dyes and confirmed by transient absorption measurements of the radical cation of the dyes and free carriers (injected electrons) in the TiO2.

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2013

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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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Design and synthesis of artificial photosynthetic molecules to mimic aspects of natural photosynthetic mechanisms

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Natural photosynthesis features a complex biophysical/chemical process that requires sunlight to produce energy rich products. It is one of the most important processes responsible for the appearance and sustainability of life on earth. The first part of the thesis focuses

Natural photosynthesis features a complex biophysical/chemical process that requires sunlight to produce energy rich products. It is one of the most important processes responsible for the appearance and sustainability of life on earth. The first part of the thesis focuses on understanding the mechanisms involved in regulation of light harvesting, which is necessary to balance the absorption and utilization of light energy and in that way reduce the effect caused by photooxidative damage. In photosynthesis, carotenoids are responsible not only for collection of light, but also play a major role in protecting the photosynthetic system. To investigate the role of carotenoids in the quenching of the excited state of cyclic tetrapyrroles, two sets of dyads were studied. Both sets of dyads contain zinc phthalocyanine (Pc) covalently attached to carotenoids of varying conjugation lengths. In the first set of dyads, carotenoids were attached to the phthalocyanine via amide linkage. This set of dyads serves as a good model for understanding the molecular "gear-shift" mechanism, where the addition of one double bond can turn the carotenoid from a nonquencher to a very strong quencher of the excited state of a tetrapyrrole. In the second set of dyads, carotenoids were attached to phthalocyanine via a phenyl amino group. Two independent studies were performed on these dyads: femtosecond transient absorption and steady state fluorescence induced by two-photon excitation. In the transient absorption study it was observed that there is an instantaneous population of the carotenoid S1 state after Pc excitation, while two-photon excitation of the optically forbidden carotenoid S1 state shows 1Pc population. Both observations provide a strong indication of the existence of a shared excitonic state between carotenoid and Pc. Similar results were observed in LHC II complexes in plants, supporting the role of such interactions in photosynthetic down regulation. In the second chapter we describe the synthesis of porphyrin dyes functionalized with carboxylate and phosphonate anchoring groups to be used in the construction of photoelectrochemical cells containing a porphyrin-IrO2·nH2O complex immobilized on a TiO2 electrode. The research presented here is a step in the development of high potential porphyrin-metal oxide complexes to be used in the photooxidation of water. The last chapter focuses on developing synthetic strategies for the construction of an artificial antenna system consisting of porphyrin-silver nanoparticle conjugates, linked by DNA of varied length to study the distance dependence of the interaction between nanoparticles and the porphyrin chromophore. Preliminary studies indicate that at the distance of about 7-10 nm between porphyrin and silver nanoparticle is where the porphyrin absorption leading to fluorescence shows maximum enhancement. These new hybrid constructs will be helpful for designing efficient light harvesting systems.

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2011

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Design and synthesis of organic molecular models of artificial photosynthetic reaction center

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A clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels is solar energy. For efficient use of solar energy to be realized, artificial systems that can effectively capture and convert sunlight into a usable form of energy have to be developed. In

A clean and sustainable alternative to fossil fuels is solar energy. For efficient use of solar energy to be realized, artificial systems that can effectively capture and convert sunlight into a usable form of energy have to be developed. In natural photosynthesis, antenna chlorophylls and carotenoids capture sunlight and transfer the resulting excitation energy to the photosynthetic reaction center (PRC). Small reorganization energy, λ and well-balanced electronic coupling between donors and acceptors in the PRC favor formation of a highly efficient charge-separated (CS) state. By covalently linking electron/energy donors to acceptors, organic molecular dyads and triads that mimic natural photosynthesis were synthesized and studied. Peripherally linked free base phthalocyanine (Pc)-fullerene (C60) and a zinc (Zn) phthalocyanine-C60 dyads were synthesized. Photoexcitation of the Pc moiety resulted in singlet-singlet energy transfer to the attached C60, followed by electron transfer. The lifetime of the CS state was 94 ps. Linking C60 axially to silicon (Si) Pc, a lifetime of the CS state of 4.5 ns was realized. The exceptionally long-lived CS state of the SiPc-C60 dyad qualifies it for applications in solar energy conversion devices. A secondary electron donor was linked to the dyad to obtain a carotenoid (Car)-SiPc-C60 triad and ferrocene (Fc)-SiPc-C60 triad. Excitation of the SiPc moiety resulted in fast electron transfer from the Car or Fc secondary electron donors to the C60. The lifetime of the CS state was 17 ps and 1.2 ps in Car-SiPc-C60 and Fc-SiPc-C60, respectively. In Chapter 3, an efficient synthetic route that yielded regioselective oxidative porphyrin dimerization is presented. Using Cu2+ as the oxidant, meso-β doubly-connected fused porphyrin dimers were obtained in very high yields. Removal of the copper from the macrocycle affords a free base porphyrin dimer. This allows for exchange of metals and provides a route to a wider range of metallporphyrin dimers. In Chapter 4, the development of an efficient and an expedient route to bacteriopurpurin synthesis is discussed. Meso-10,20- diformylation of porphyrin was achieved and one-pot porphyrin diacrylate synthesis and cyclization to afford bacteriopurpurin was realized. The bacteriopurpurin had a reduction potential of - 0.85 V vs SCE and λmax, 845 nm.

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2014

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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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Mutations that affect the bidirectional electron transfer in photosystem I

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Photosystem I (PSI) is a multi-subunit, pigment-protein complex that catalyzes light-driven electron transfer (ET) in its bi-branched reaction center (RC). Recently it was suggested that the initial charge separation (CS) event can take place independently within each ec2/ec3 chlorophyll pair.

Photosystem I (PSI) is a multi-subunit, pigment-protein complex that catalyzes light-driven electron transfer (ET) in its bi-branched reaction center (RC). Recently it was suggested that the initial charge separation (CS) event can take place independently within each ec2/ec3 chlorophyll pair. In order to improve our understanding of this phenomenon, we have generated new mutations in the PsaA and PsaB subunits near the electron transfer cofactor 2 (ec2 chlorophyll). PsaA-Asn604 accepts a hydrogen bond from the water molecule that is the axial ligand of ec2B and the case is similar for PsaB-Asn591 and ec2A. The second set of targeted sites was PsaA-Ala684 and PsaB-Ala664, whose methyl groups are present near ec2A and ec2B, respectively. We generated a number of mutants by targeting the selected protein residues. These mutations were expected to alter the energetics of the primary charge separation event.

The PsaA-A684N mutants exhibited increased ET on the B-branch as compared to the A-branch in both in vivo and in vitro conditions. The transient electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy revealed the formation of increased B-side radical pair (RP) at ambient and cryogenic temperatures. The ultrafast transient absorption spectroscopy and fluorescence decay measurement of the PsaA-A684N and PsaB-A664N showed a slight deceleration of energy trapping. Thus making mutations near ec2 on each branch resulted into modulation of the charge separation process. In the second set of mutants, where ec2 cofactor was target by substitution of PsaA-Asn604 or PsaB-Asn591 to other amino acids, a drop in energy trapping was observed. The quantum yield of CS decreases in Asn to Leu and His mutants on the respective branch. The P700 triplet state was not observed at room and cryogenic temperature for these mutants, nor was a rapid decay of P700+ in the nanosecond timescale, indicating that the mutations do not cause a blockage of electron transfer from the ec3 Chl. Time-resolved fluorescence results showed a decrease in the lifetime of the energy trapping. We interpret this decrease in lifetime as a new channel of excitation energy decay, in which the untrapped energy dissipates as heat through a fast internal conversion process. Thus, a variety of spectroscopic measurements of PSI with point mutations near the ec2 cofactor further support that the ec2 cofactor is involved in energy trapping process.

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2014