2023 96 P

Synthesis of CuAlS2/ZnS Quantum Dots for Photocatalysis

By: Gabriela Vazquez, Fay Harris, Justin Tolentino

Departments: Biology, Chemistry & Biochemistry

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Michael Enright

The aim of this project is to develop a synthetic understanding of colloidal nanomaterial systems for sustainable energy solutions. It is materials chemistry motivated by the environmental need for clean energy and to reduce CO2 emissions. By harnessing photocatalysts through quantum dot heterostructures we can design more efficient solar-to-fuel applications. Through this development, we seek to gain a deeper understanding of photon excitation and charge carrier behavior in quantum dots for photocatalysis. Our leading hypothesis states that the efficiency of photo redox reactions can be improved using anisotropic type II heterostructure nanomaterials, such as CuAlS2/ZnS. The type II quantum dots help separate photoexcited electrons and holes from each other and are capable of extending the excited state lifetime. A longer lived excited state means a higher probability of facilitating a chemical reduction reaction. The anisotropic rod and tetrapod shaped nanoparticles are expected to be even better at separating excitons by improving the separation of the confined hole and electron. If proven correct, this will be a huge step towards creating inexpensive, sustainable, and affordable nanoscale catalysts for solar energy conversion. Here, synthetic advancements in CuAlS2/ZnS are highlighted in an effort to make nanomaterials with long exciton lifetimes to be used as photocatalysts to more efficiently drive photoredox reactions with large turnover numbers.