Troy Townsend's thesis explores the structure, energetics and activity of three inorganic nanocrystal photocatalysts. The goal of this work is to investigate the potential of metal oxide nanocrystals for application in photocatalytic water splitting, which could one day provide us with clean hydrogen fuel derived from water and solar energy. Specifically, Townsend's work addresses the effects of co-catalyst addition to niobium oxide nanotubes for photocatalytic water reduction to hydrogen, and the first use of iron oxide 'rust' in nanocrystal suspensions for oxygen production. In addition, Townsend studies a nickel/oxide-strontium titanate nanocomposite which can be described as one of only four nanoscale water splitting photocatalysts. He also examines the charge transport for this system. Overall, this collection of studies brings relevance to the design of inorganic nanomaterials for photocatalytic water splitting while introducing new directions for solar energy conversion.
My interest in energy and the environment sparked during my undergraduate career where I received double degrees in biology and chemistry with honors from St. Mary's College of Maryland. After teaching chemistry at the Kiski school in Pennsylvania and motivated to pursue solar research, I joined Frank Osterloh's photocatalyst group at the University of California, Davis. Supported by a NSF graduate research fellowship, I published and collaborated on several articles elucidating the photo-electrochemical properties of nanomaterials. Currently, I hold a post-doc at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, where I design and build spray-on photovoltaic devices for naval applications.
Introduction.- The Hydrogen Evolution Reaction: Water Reduction PhotocatalysisImproved Niobate Nanoscroll Photocatalysts for Partial Water Splitting.- The Oxygen Evolution Reaction: Water Oxidation PhotocatalysisPhotocatalytic Water Oxidation with Suspended alpha-Fe2O3 Particles Effects of Nanoscaling.- Complete Water Splitting with Multi-Component CatalystsOverall Water Splitting with Suspended NiO-STO nanocrystals.- Complete Water Splitting with Multi-Component CatalystsProposed Mechanism of Charge Transport in NiOx loaded SrTiO3 Photocatalyst for Complete Water Splitting.