2015 Nakamoto Lecture
The Department of Chemistry is pleased to announce that this year's Nakamoto Lecture will be given by Professor Thomas E. Mallouk, the Evan Pugh Professor of Chemistry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and Physics at Penn State University. The lecture, "Light Harvesting and Water Splitting in Dye-Sensitized Solar Cells," will be held on Friday, September 18, 2015.
Prof. Mallouk's research group uses nanoscale assembly techniques to make complex materials with unusual properties or specific functions. Often these properties arise because the system is mesoscopic, meaning that the physical size of the object corresponds to some characteristic physical length, such as the wavelength of light, the coherence length of Cooper pairs in a superconductor, or the width of the depletion layer in a semiconductor liquid junction.
His research into solar photochemistry and photoelectrochemistry is focused on developing new kinds of nanomaterials that will lead to more efficient and less expensive solar energy conversion devices. Dye-sensitized solar cells, developed over two decades ago by Michael Gratzel and coworkers, can use the solar spectrum more efficiently when they are coupled to nanostructures that trap visible light or selectively re-direct infrared light to a silicon solar cell. In a collaborative project with the Lakhtakia and Mayer groups, Prof. Mallouk is exploring solar cell designs that combine plasmonic (metal) nanostructures and periodic dielectrics (photonic crystals) to control the flow of light. By incorporating nanoparticles that catalyze water oxidation into dye sensitized solar cells, it is possible to split water to hydrogen and oxygen using visible light. They are susing biomimetic principles to control electron and proton transfer reactions in these cells and transient spectroscopic techniques to measure their kinetics.
Kazuo Nakamoto was born in Kobe, Japan. He received his B.S. and D.Sc. from Osaka University and remained at Osaka as a member of the faculty for an additional four years, except for the two years which he spent at Iowa State University working in the laboratory of Robert E. Rundle as a Fulbright Scholar. In 1958 he joined the faculty at Clark University, moving to Illinois Institute of Technology in 1961 and in 1969 he became the first Wehr Professor of Chemistry at Marquette University.
Professor Nakamoto directed the research of more than 85 graduate students and postdoctoral associates and published more than 210 papers and 15 review articles. He was a pioneer in the use of metal isotopes to elucidate the involvement of metals in low frequency vibrations in metallic complexes, a discovery that helped fuel the rapid growth in the developing field of bioinorganic chemistry. He then turned his attention to biological problems and began a vigorous research program dealing with heme-related compounds. He was also amongst the first to use matrix isolation techniques to prepare and characterize unstable species, including the biologically relevant ferryl heme complexes, an important intermediate in many oxidative heme enzymes. His interest also included DNA and the process of intercalation. Using oligonucleotides synthesized to include specific sequences, he established criteria that can be used to deduce the site specificity of these compounds. He was able to differentiate between exterior (groove) binding and interior (intercalation) binding through careful vibrational analysis.
In keeping with his life-long interest in communicating the excitement of science, he authored several influential texts in the field of spectroscopy, including his very famous 2-volume work on Infrared and Raman Spectra of Inorganic and Coordination Compounds, the sixth edition of which was issued in 2009, and in 2008 coauthored a new book entitled Drug-DNA Interactions: Structures and Spectra. Remarkably, his passion for science and dedication to accomplishment were clearly manifested, even up to the final weeks of his life, as he was continually pondering new points to include in planned future editions of his books. In spite of his great scientific success, he remained a genuinely modest man who will long be missed by the many of us who knew and admired him.
Previous Nakamoto Lecturers