SIU Chemist Wins 2016 Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards
May 16, 2016
The Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Awards provide seed money for research by junior faculty at ORAU member institutions like SIU. The awards are prestigious and competitive as each member institute can submit only two applications (including a short, 2-page length high impact proposal) for full-time Assistant Professors within their first two years of tenure-track appointment. Faculty members of Engineering, Science, and Education can apply for this award that includes $5k by the ORAU and a matching $5k by the participating institute towards faculty salary, graduate student salary, travel, equipment, or supplies.
Dr. Pravas Deria of Chemistry and Biochemistry (College of Science) is one of the 2016 winners. Dr. Deria’s research involves porous hybrid materials relevant in energy-related applications. With the aid of this award, he plans to develop conducting 3D porous materials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) suitable for electro- and photoelectron-catalytic applications. It is a fascinating fundamental as well as technological challenge as materials possessing high surface area combined with good electrical conductivity are rare. Porous conducting materials are thus expected to impact the development of efficient solar energy conversion machinery that operate under electro- or photoelectro-chemical configurations. The advantage of porous 3D conducting materials such as MOFs (3D-crystalline inorganic coordination polymers) is that, in principle, they can engender electrodes with 10³-10⁴ times more areal concentration of active catalysts relative to that achieved via SAM. The problem with such materials, however, has been their non-conducting nature with poor electrocatalytic performances limited by the slow self-exchange charge hopping process. Dr. Deria aims to tackle this issue by introduction of new metal-ligand coordination chemistry into the framework construction that also involves a structure-directing component. Thus the plan is to generate a framework that can conduct and undertake redox processes, while the pores of these materials would facilitate in- or out-flux of charged balancing ions and or substrates.
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