CBES Investigators

Emily Weiss

Ofer Kedem

Postdoctoral Fellow

James Schwabacher

PhD Candidate

Mohamad Kodaimati

Graduate Student

Research Overview

The Weiss group has demonstrated that quantum dots (QDs) outperform the most widely used infrared complexes as sensitizers for CO2 reduction, to photocatalyze C–C coupling without sacrificial reagents, and to achieve the 6-e/6-H+ photoreduction of nitrobenzene to aniline. In recent work sponsored by CBES, Weiss recently found that QD nanoassemblies are more photocatalytically active for multi-electron chemistry (CO2 and H+ reduction) than are isolated sensitizer–catalyst pairs of their colloidal and molecular components. This activity is influenced by the size, connectivity, geometry, and inter-component interactions of the aggregate. These aggregates are therefore hierarchical photocatalytic structures with properties tunable by composition and environment. Weiss will build on these solution-phase demonstrations to improve the catalytic efficiencies of these structures, expand their reaction scope, and encapsulate them in molecule-permeable supramolecular gels to create robust hierarchical photocatalytic materials tunable through the mechanical and chemical properties of the soft material. These systems can be modified by changing the compositions of their building blocks and by controlling the interparticle structure and order within the assemblies.