The Department of Chemistry

Howard Tieckelmann Lecture Series

The 6th Annual Howard Tieckelmann Memorial Lecture


FRIDAY, APRIL 11, 2014

LECTURE - 104 Knox Hall, UB North Campus

4:00 - 4:05 pm

Welcoming Remarks

Michael R. Detty, Professor and Chair

Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo

4:05 - 4:10 pm

Introduction of Tieckelmann Lecturer

David F. Watson, Associate Professor

Department of Chemistry, University at Buffalo

4:10 - 5:10 pm

Howard Tieckelmann Memorial Lecture

"Finding the Way to Solar Fuels"

Professor Thomas J. Meyer

Department of Chemistry, Univ. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Biography of Howard Tieckelmann

Guest speaker:

Professor Thomas J. Meyer, Department of Chemistry, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

"Finding the Way to Solar Fuels"

Abstract - In principle, the sun should be our ultimate renewable energy source. However, it is a low intensity source and using it on the massive scales required to power the world’s increasingly urban economies will require vast collection areas. It is also intermittent, requiring a vast energy storage capability to provide adequate power at night. The only practical solution at the required scale appears to be “Artificial Photosynthesis” with “solar fuels” as the product. Solar fuels are high energy molecules with energy stored in the chemical bonds of hydrogen from water splitting or from reduction of CO2 to CO, other oxygenates, or hydrocarbons.

The key elements in a successful solar fuel device are understood: light absorption, excited state electron transfer, vectorial electron/energy/proton transfer driven by free energy gradients, PCET activation of catalysis, rapid rates for key solar fuel half reactions, device design and scale-up. Dye Sensitized Photoelectrosynthesis Cells (DSPEC) offer a structural paradigm for the integration of these functions. As in Dye Sensitized Solar Cells (DSSC), DSPECs are driven by interfacial light absorption and excited state electron or hole injection at the surfaces of oxide semiconductors. However, DSPECs aim to produce oxygen and a fuel in the separate cell compartments of a photoelectrochemical cell rather than a photopotential and photocurrent.

Key guiding principles to DSPECs are “keep it simple” and “let the molecules do the work”. Molecules, clusters, and molecular assemblies are used to absorb light, carry out catalytic half reactions, etc. based on a “modular” approach. In this approach the separate components are evaluated separately and integrated into device configurations. Significant progress has been made in water oxidation and CO2 reduction catalysis and in integrating them in surface stabilized, interfacial structures. Application of transient absorption, photocurrent, and device measurements on the resulting assemblies on TiO2 and other high band gap semiconductors is revealing the underlying factors that control device efficiency and stability.


Success in visible water splitting was achieved recently in a DSPEC by exploiting atomic layer deposition (ALD) to prepare core-shell structures with nanoparticle, mesoporous films of the transparent conducting oxide, tin-doped indium oxide, coated by thin 2-4 nm films of TiO2.  When photolyzed with visible light, core-shell structures derivatized by a chromophore-catalyst assembly resulted in water splitting with per photon absorbed efficiencies of 4-5%.


Speaker Bio

Prof. Thomas J. Meyer Professor Thomas J. Meyer

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Thomas J. Meyer is a graduate of Ohio University, where he received a B.S. degree in 1963, and Stanford University, where he received a Ph.D. in 1966 under the direction of Henry Taube, winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1983.  Dr. Meyer was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at University College, London in 1967 with Sir Ronald Nyholm.  Prof. Meyer joined the Department of Chemistry at UNC in 1968, was promoted to Associate Professor in 1972, Full Professor in 1975, Smith Professor in 1982, and Kenan Professor in 1987.  He was the Head of Chemistry from 1985 to 1990, Chair of UNC’s Curriculum in Applied Sciences from 1994 to 1997, and Vice Chancellor/Vice Provost for Graduate Studies and Research at UNC from 1994 to 1999.

In 2000, Prof. Meyer was named Associate Director for Strategic Research at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).  In that position, he oversaw research in support of nuclear weapons, threat reduction, and energy and environmental programs, and was LANL’s lead for economic development, intellectual property, and the DOE’s programs in Science, Energy Efficiency and Renewables, and Nuclear Energy. Prof. Meyer rejoined the faculty of UNC as Arey Professor of Chemistry in 2005.

Prof. Meyer is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has won many awards for chemical research, including the Award for Distinguished Service to Inorganic Chemistry from the American Chemical Society (2002); the Porter Medal from the European Photochemistry Association, Inter-American Photochemistry Society, and Asian and Oceanian Photochemistry Association (2012); and the Honda-Fujishima Lectureship sponsored by the Japanese Photochemical Association (2013).

Prof. Meyer is a world-renowned leader in inorganic chemistry and photochemistry.  His research has led to pioneering discoveries in chemical reactivity and solar energy conversion.  These include the first examples of excited-state electron transfer with implications for energy conversion (with D.G. Whitten, 1974), excited-state electron transfer in a chromophore-quencher assembly (1978), the discovery of proton coupled electron transfer (PCET, 1981), the first molecular catalysts for water oxidation (1982), new chemical approaches to artificial photosynthesis (1989), the first interfacial catalyst for CO2 reduction (1989), the dye sensitized photoelectrosynthesis cell (DSPEC, 1999), the experimental elucidation of the localized-to-delocalized transition in mixed-valence molecules (2001), a new modular approach to artificial photosynthesis (2005), and the first characterized solution and interfacial single-site catalysts for water oxidation (2008-2010).  Prof. Meyer has published over 670 papers, holds four patents, and is one of the most highly cited chemists in the world.

Prof. Meyer has mentored a vast number of students and postdoctoral fellows who have become leading faculty and researchers in the disciplines of inorganic chemistry, photochemistry, and solar energy conversion.

The Department of Chemistry