Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Mahfujur Rahman

Research Fellow, UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering
Started May 2008

Development of novel electrodes and electrochemical devices for the application of Hydrogen production by photoelectrochemical water splitting and Dye-sensitized solar cell -DSSC

The photocatalytic splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen using cell containing platinum and titanium dioxide (TiO2) electrodes is a potentially clean and renewable source of hydrogen fuel. However, the size of the band gap (~ 3.1 eV) of the TiO2 photocatalyst leads to its relatively low photoactivity as an electrode for the photoelectrochemical splitting of H2O. The development of materials with smaller band gaps of approximately 2.0 eV is therefore necessary. The aim of this work is to improve the photoactivity of the Honda/Fujishima effect through doping (C, N, W, Fe), in homogeneous and graded pattern, and tailoring the surface and bulk structure of the TiO2 photocatalyst electrode.
Publication list

Dr Ana Petronliho

UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
Started February 2011

Synthesis of molecular catalysts for water oxidation based on transition metal complexes bearing N- heterocyclic carbenes

Abnormal carbenes are a strongly mesoionic subclass of N-heterocyclic carbenes (NHCs) and therefore impart a higher electron density to the ligated metal center. As a consequence, significantly different reaction pathways have become available with these types of ligands and there is a beneficial role of these ligands in the catalytic oxidation of water. I will initially work on homogeneous aqueous phase Ir-based molecular catalysts for oxygen evolution in water splitting and will progress to the development of immobilized catalysts on photoanodes.

Dr Avishek Paul

School of Chemical Sciences, Dublin City University
Started January 2012

Photocatalytic CO2 Reduction

Our research work involves photocatalytic CO2 reduction using transition metal based photocatalyst. Photocatalytic carbon dioxide reduction is not a straight forward process and poses a number of difficulties. One of the difficulties with CO2 reduction is its low solubility. Another factor is the stability of CO2. Transition-metal complexes are used as catalysts since they can absorb in the visible region, poses long-lived excited states, and can promote the activation of small molecules. Examples of the reduction products of CO2 include carbon monoxide, formic acid, methanol and many more. Many of the reduction products may be useful starting materials for the chemical industry.

Dr Sateesh Bandaru

UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering
Started February 2012

Quantum Chemical and Molecular Dynamics simulation of Hydrogen storage in Ammonia borane

The focus of my research is to study hydrogen-storage materials and the effects of catalysts on the release of hydrogen from these materials as well as their regeneration (adsorption of hydrogen). To this end, I use first principles computational chemistry approaches to predict the electronic structure of molecules to obtain thermodynamic and kinetic information. In my recent project, I am using various ab-initio approaches to understand the structure, reactivity of organo-nitrogen compounds (amino borane) for hydrogen storage. I am also using these methods to design new catalysts to release hydrogen from amino boranes. In order to optimize the catalyst's design and in turn, its function, I am working to improve the understanding of the reaction mechanisms in these systems using the predictions of reaction kinetics.

Dr Stephen Crosbie

UCD School of Physics

Started February 2012

Plasmonic Enhancement of Dye Sensitised Solar Cells

The goal of my project is to develop novel materials and design structures to enhance the high power conversion efficiency of next generation dye sensitised solar cells (DSSC).  Bio-mimetic DSSC devices are attractive as they offer low-production costs and are comparatively eco-friendly relative to silicon based solar cells.

Surface Plasmons offer the possibility to confine or store electromagnetic radiation in the vicinity of a plasmon active layer (i.e. nanostructured metal / dielectric halfspace). In this project, computational and experimental investigations on the implementation of such a layer into the architecture of a DSSC will be made. This will be achieved utilizing state of the art ultrafast laser and photo electron emission microscopy systems for unprecedented nanoplasmonic studies.  

Dr Pathik Maji

UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering
May 2010- February 2012

Design and synthesis of novel porphyrins for DSSCs

Investigation into the use of porphyrins for application in DSSCs has shown promising results. Due to their impressive light harvesting properties, these conjugated macrocycles show great potential as future efficient sensitizers. The structure of these chromophores can be modified, for subsequent incorporation into DSSCs, by the extension of the pi conjugation and the introduction of donor and anchor moieties.

Dr Danilo Dini

School of Chemical Sciences, Dublin City University
Started July 2008-June 2011

Electrochemistry of modified electrode surfaces for photocatalytic reduction of CO2

My research activity involves the determination of the photophysical, photochemical and photoelectrochemical properties of bimetallic complexes for photocatalytic purposes. These molecular systems contain a Ru-based light-absorbing moiety and a catalytic centre connected through an electronically conjugated bridging ligand. In particular, complexes are studied for the light-induced reduction of carbon dioxide and are characterized either in solution or as adsorbed species on semiconductor electrodes.

Dr Robert Gunning

MSSI, University of Limerick
October 2008- September 2010

Advanced Biomimetic Materials for Photovoltaic Devices

The ultimate aim of this project is to use large-area assemblies of nanorods to produce photovoltaic devices. The nanorods are made from photo-active semiconductor materials and may be combined with other inorganic materials or organic conducting polymers. In particular, the use of electophoresis as a method for assembly and deposition will be investigated. The project also covers the photo-voltaic characterization of these devices. www.ifnano.com/index_files/page0013.htm

Dr Brian Ashall

UCD School of Physics
December 2009- December 2010

Dye Sensitised Solar Cells

The aim of this project is to develop novel materials and devices that mimic the natural photosynthesis process in plants with high power conversion efficiencies, the so-called dye sensitised solar cell (DSSC). The biomimetic DSSC is an emerging technology and assumes importance primarily due to its low-production cost and eco-friendly nature.

Surface Plasmons offer the possibility to confine or store electromagnetic radiation in the vicinity of a plasmon active layer (i.e. nanostructured  metal / dielectric halfspace). In this project, computational and experimental investigations on the implementation of such a layer into the architecture of a DSSC will be made. Specifically, the focus is to generate a broadband, polarisation and angle independent, efficient plasmon active layer; that can be cost efficiently integrated into an inverted DSSC.

Dr M. Jhansi Lakshmi Kishore

UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
February 2009- December 2010

Synthesis of biomimetic catalytic materials to fix CO2 to form valuable low molecular weight products at low temperatures and pressures

The project aims at efficient conversion of CO2 to C1 products to achieve highly desirable twin goals of reducing atmospheric levels and providing a vital route to valuable chemical feed stocks. To achieve this, heterogeneous catalysts containing Cobalt complexes tethered to mesoporous silica (SBA-15 and MCM-41) will be synthesized and characterized. Their catalytic activity is studied in a parr reactor at different temperatures and pressures.

Dr Michael Griffin

UCD School of Chemistry and Chemical Biology
January - December 2010

Dye Sensitised Solar Cells

The aim of the project is develop a new class of ruthenium and cobalt complexes for use in solar cells. The complexes are synthesised from the strong electron donating, derivatised β-diketiminate ligands. The electrochemistry of the complexes will also be investigated.

Dr Courtney Collins

MSSI, UL
April - December 2010

Electrochemical and Spectroscopic characterisation of Dye Sensitised Solar Cells

My work involves understanding the mechanisms of newly emerging redox couples for their use in dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSC), an example being thiolate electrolytes and silfide/polysulfide type electrolytes. Commonly used iodide electrolytes are corrosive and scavange a lot of useful light, thus alternatives need to be investigated. Using electrochemical methods, the kinetics of these new redox couples will characterised, as well as the effect of various additives on DSSC electrolytes will be studied and compared. Techniques such as voltammetry and rotating disk electrode voltammetry are some of the useful methods which will be used to provide detailed information on the fundamental properties of these alternative redox couples.

Dr Saibh Morrissey

UCD School of Chemical and Bioprocess Engineering
November 2009-June 2010