Photochemistry with Two-Dimensional Atomic Crystals

(Mentors: Ken Burch, Associate Prof. of Physics; Dunwei Wang, Associate Prof. of Chemistry)

Description: The overall goal of this project is to gain a fundamental understanding of the various factors in photo catalysis to engineer future devices for clean energy generation (hydrogen fuel). The excitement around “water splitting” results from the opportunity to produce this carbon neutral using the sun, which could in turn be burnt in cars with the only by-product being water. We will address two critical challenges in artificial photosynthesis: simultaneously optimizing light-to-charge conversion and catalytic specificity. Specifically, we will exploit the established ability of exfoliation to quickly produce an array of two-dimensional atomic crystals (2DAC), with various sizes, interfaces and devices, on different substrates. A student in the Burch group will exfoliate various transition metal dichalcogenides (MoS2 and WSe2) on prepared substrates, characterize them with AFM/Raman/PL and fabricate devices. They will collaborate with the student in the Wang group who will perform the photo-catalytic measurements. The Wang group member will also analyze the results and work with the Burch group member to further optimize devices by improving optical properties of the substrates.