Proton Coupled Electron Transfer Reactions at the Surface of Metal Oxide Nanomaterials
Braten, Miles Nathaniel
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Nanostructured metal oxide materials are found in many products and processes in our society today, but they play a particularly important role in the conversion and storage of energy. The materials are used as catalysts and redox active supports in devices such as dye sensitized solar cells, solid oxide fuel cells, and flow batteries, where they transfer and store electrons and charge balancing cations. Oftentimes electron transfer is modulated by the cations and when the cation is a proton, these redox reactions are known as proton coupled electron transfer (PCET) reactions. The work described in this dissertation focuses on understanding the PCET reactivity of nanocrystalline metal oxide materials. Chapter 1 introduces the concept of PCET and provides background information on the zinc oxide (ZnO) nanocrystals (NCs) which the majority of the research is focused on. Chapter 2 examines the chemistry that occurs during the photoreduction of ZnO NCs. Chapter 3 describes experiments probing how ZnO NC capping ligand concentration and NC size modulate PCET reaction rates. Chapter 4 describes experiments that compare the PCET reactivity of ZnO NCs with different numbers of electrons and protons stored on them. Chapter 5 describes attempts to observe the electrochemical reduction of ZnO NCs attached to gold electrodes. Finally, Chapter 6 contains attempts to identify a nanostructured metal oxide alkane oxidation catalyst for use in fuel cell.
- Chemistry