Spotlight on Student Research: Tom Fenton

Graduate students Tom Fenton and Samantha Gillingham in the lab

Samantha Gillingham, 1st year graduate student pictured left with Tom Fenton, 4th year graduate student

My current research at UNH is investigating rhenium bipyridine homogenous catalysts which we have attached to silica surfaces for CO2 reduction. The reduction of CO2 via solar energy has been studied for years, however attachment to a surface is a technique recently developed by the Li group. By using these materials with a sacrificial electron donor, we can monitor the catalytic process through gas chromatography as well as infrared spectroscopy. The solid support assists with catalyst stability in solution as well as recyclability. Additionally, by using a surface we are investigating possible cooperative catalysis by forcing close proximity on silica nanoparticles. I also investigate Cu/TiO2 materials for CO2 reduction as a cheaper alternative to the rhenium system. These materials are not as efficient in the reduction catalysis; however we are investigating interactions between the copper and CO2 on the surface of TiO2. Having a greater understanding of the mechanism can lead us to develop more efficient copper materials.

Tom Fenton, 4th year graduate student, Dr. Gonghu Li's Research Group