Chemistry Graduate Student Earns National Fellowship:
Date: June 18, 2001
Research Could Enhance Solar Power Devices
By: Chris Curran
Phone: (513) 556-1806
Photos by: Lisa Ventre
Archive: Research News
Hershel Jude, a doctoral student in the UC chemistry department will receive a prestigious Link Foundation Energy Fellowship for the 2001-2002 academic year. The award is worth $20,000 and will support research that has applications in both solar energy and light-driven catalysis.
"I am especially thrilled, because these fellowships are very competitive," said William Connick, assistant professor of chemistry and Jude's adviser. "But Hershel is a one of a kind person."
The Link Foundation sponsors a number of grant programs, including energy research and conservation. The proposal, "Engineering Platinum (II) Complexes for Photoinduced Two-Electron Transfer," was funded because of its potential to make solar energy devices more efficient.
The heart of Jude's work is developing a molecular complex containing platinum for the study of two-electron transfer. Multiple electron transfer is at the center of a number of important biological processes, including photosynthesis. But it's difficult to study because it happens within very large molecules. Even worse, those molecules tend to change shape and rearrange when the electrons are transferred.
"When you transfer the two electrons, there's a lot of rearrangement normally," explained Jude. With the molecules he is synthesizing, there is less geometric rearrangement. So, he can focus on the transfer itself instead of how the entire molecule is changing shape.
"It's a lot more challenging than we expected," he admitted, saying it might take two or three more months to get all the complexes synthesized in his Crosley Tower lab. But if it works out the way Jude expects, suitable complexes will provide a clear signal by emitting a bright flash of light.
"What we really want are complexes that are luminescent…that glow under black light," said Jude. He's made some already that glow in different colors depending on where the electrons are situated. When the molecules transfer electrons, the emission should disappear.
Jude said the Link fellowship will make it much easier as he completes his doctoral research next year, since he won't have to work as a teaching assistant. He'll also be able to travel to more meetings to present his research findings. He presented a poster at the recent American Chemical Society (ACS) meeting in San Diego, and will make a formal presentation in August at the national ACS meeting in Chicago.
More information about the Link Foundation is available at www.linkenergy.org.