Gary Moore Receives NSF CAREER Award

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Gary Moore is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Career Award. The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation's most prestigious, and is one of its most competitive. CAREER awards support junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through research, education and the integration of education and research within the context of the mission of their organizations.
Gary's proposal is titled: SUNCROPS (Solar-Fuels Using Nanoscale Catalysts Reacting on Polymer-modified Surfaces) and describes novel synthetic methodologies to direct and assemble molecular redox catalysts on (semi)conducting substrates using polymeric interfaces. Addressing this obstacle improves fundamental understanding of photoactivated catalysis in complex environments and further enables technological advancements that depend on the precise control and selectivity of nanoscale components.
This project supports the general research goals of Gary and his group who are working on ways of capturing, converting and storing solar energy as fuels. They are particularly interested in using the sun’s energy to generate hydrogen from water and to convert carbon dioxide into useful chemical products.
“In a bigger picture, an important part of our research is looking to use solar energy to meet global human energy demands,” says Gary. “While there are a number of existing ways of doing that, photovoltaics represent one strategy for converting sunlight to electricity…but just making electricity is not enough.”  For large-scale applications, solar energy needs to be converted into a more permanent form so that it can be used, for example, at night, when the sun is not shining. Using solar energy to form fuels rather than storing electrons in batteries has the advantage that fuels have relatively high energy densities because the electrons can be stored much closer in chemical bonds. This, in large part, is why most modern transportation systems depend on their use.
By combining solar energy capture, conversion and storage, a not always available energy source can be turned into chemical fuels that can be used on demand.
Gary’s team includes SMS graduate students Anna M. Beiler, Diana Khusnutdinova, Edgar Reyes and Brian L. Wadsworth, as well as SMS undergraduate students Christian Huber and Sylvia Nanyangwe.