First-year chemistry students learn data analytics in new lab curriculum

First-year chemistry students learn data analytics in new lab curriculum

Prof. Martin Gruebele, far left, joins his team that created a low-cost method for teaching community college students the basics of instrument assembly and data analysis. The colors of the spectrum are broken down as they use a spectrometer built from a kit to use in analyzing dyed fluids. From left, Prof. Martin Gruebele, Alison Wallum, Amy Nicely and Zetai Liu.

A team of scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Rice University and Danville Area Community College has created an affordable laboratory curriculum for teaching advanced data analysis techniques and instrument building to first-year general chemistry students.

Students in the course at DACC get a first-hand look at the inside of a spectrometer by building a simple one from a kit and discover how they can use programming and data science techniques to extract hidden information from chemical measurements, the scientists say.

Students win 2023 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

Students win 2023 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships

2023 NSF GRF Recipients (from top left clockwise: Sadie Brasel, Eric Gomez, Autumn Bruncz, Zac Faitz)Students Zac Faitz (Zanni Group, University of Wisconsin-Madison), Autumn Bruncz, Sadie Brasel, and Eric Gomez (Link Group, Rice) have been awarded 2023 NSF Graduate Research Fellowships!

Each of them are valuable members of our Center, and they come from distinct backgrounds that shaped them into the scientists they are today. Read more here!

Landes student wins 2023 RURS Shapiro Showcase

Landes student wins 2023 RURS Shapiro Showcase

Annette Jones with her Shapiro Showcase AwardUndergrad student Annette Jones (Landes Group, Rice University) won the Shapiro Showcase at the 2023 Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium!

We wish her the best of luck as she heads to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in fall 2023 to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry.

Student night out in Houston, TX!

Student night out in Houston, TX

Group photo of CAFF studentsStudent Alison Wallum (Gruebele Group, UIUC) traveled to Houston, TX and enjoyed an outing with the Landes & Link Groups.

We’re looking forward to more events for our members to meet & network.

Nanoparticles make it easier to turn light into solvated electrons

Nanoparticles make it easier to turn light into solvated electrons

There are many ways to initiate chemical reactions in liquids, but placing free electrons directly into water, ammonia and other liquid solutions is especially attractive for green chemistry because solvated electrons are inherently clean, leaving behind no side products after they react.

In a published study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers from the Center for Adapting Flaws into Features (CAFF) uncovered the long-sought mechanism of a well-known but poorly understood process that produces solvated electrons via interactions between light and metal.

More links aren’t necessarily better for hybrid nanomaterials

More links aren’t necessarily better for hybrid nanomaterials

Chemists from Rice University and the University of Texas at Austin discovered more isn’t always better when it comes to packing charge-acceptor molecules on the surface of semiconducting nanocrystals.

Rossky, Roberts and colleagues at CAFF systematically studied hybrid materials containing lead sulfide nanocrystals and varying concentrations of an oft-studied organic dye called perylene diimide (PDI). The experiments showed that continually increasing the concentration of PDI on the surface of nanocrystals eventually produced a precipitous drop in electron transfer rates.

Prof. Martin Zanni awarded at FACSS SciX

Prof. Martin Zanni awarded at FACSS SciX

Marty Zanni (UWM)

Prof. Martin Zanni was granted the 2022 Ellis R. Lippincott award for his work in ultrafast infrared spectroscopy.

The award was jointly established in 1975 by The Optical Society (OSA), The Coblentz Society, and The Society for Applied Spectroscopy to honor the unique contributions of Professor Ellis R. Lippincott by recognizing an individual that has made significant contributions to the field of vibrational spectroscopy.

Dr. Charlisa Daniels invited to speak at GRC

Dr. Charlisa Daniels invited to speak at GRC

Charlisa Daniels (NKU)

CAFF partner Dr. Charlisa Daniels was invited to speak at the end of the 2022 Fundamentals of Separation Science and Engineering Gordon Research Conference in Ventura, CA on October 7, 2022!

Her talk was titled, “Understanding the Role of Stimuli Responsive Polymers in PPM Stationary Phases.”

Graduate Student Zach Armstrong Defends Thesis

Graduate student Zach Armstrong defends thesis


Congratulations to Dr. Zach Armstrong for successfully defending his Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Ultrafast Two-Dimensional White-Light Spectroscopy of Excitons in Disordered Environments” October 7, 2022!

Excitons in semiconductors often experience disordered environments. Disorder can impact the energetics and relaxation dynamics on ultrafast timescales, both having implications for the operation of photovoltaics. In this dissertation, I study the impact of disorder on novel semiconductors using two-dimensional white-light (2DWL) spectroscopy and microscopy.

Dr. Armstrong will spend a season working as ski patrol before he begins a postdoctoral position at the University of Colorado.

Director Christy Landes awarded by ACS-GHS

Director Christy Landes awarded by ACS-GHS

Christy Landes Hightower Award

CAFF Director Prof. Christy Landes was given the 2022 Joe W. Hightower Award at the American Chemical Society – Greater Houston Section Awards Banquet on October 7, 2022.

The Hightower Award was established in 1969 to provide recognition for meritorious contributions to the welfare and distinction of the Greater Houston Section, as demonstrated by outstanding and significant contributions to education, research, Sectional service and/or service to the chemistry community.

Graduate Student Miriam Bohlmann Kunz Defends Thesis

Graduate student Miriam Bohlmann Kunz defends thesis


Congratulations to Dr. Miriam Bohlmann Kunz for successfully defending her Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Ultrafast Pulse-Shaping Applied to Multi-Dimensional Spectroscopy and Novel Microscopy Methods” on August 26, 2022!

Semiconducting thin films are the building blocks of next generation photovoltaic devices. In many of these devices, energy transfer is necessary for creating a photocurrent from the initially excited electrons. Studying the energy transfer is a difficult task as it happens on the femtosecond to picosecond time scales and between grains that are 10 nanometers to 1 micrometer in diameter and layers that are hundreds of nanometers thick. The tools with both adequate spatial resolution and time resolution to resolve the energy transfer are limited. In this dissertation I will describe the use and development of methods to study the energy transfer within semiconducting thin films.

Graduate Student Alexander Al-Zubeidi Defends Thesis

Graduate student Alexander Al-Zubeidi defends thesis

Al-Zubeidi, Alexander_Rice

Congratulations to Dr. Alexander Al-Zubeidi for successfully defending his Ph.D. thesis entitled, “Plasmonic Hot Carrier-Driven Electrochemistry” on August 19, 2022!

The need for renewable energy has sparked widespread interest in photocatalysts, including systems based on plasmonic metal nanoparticles. To take advantage of these materials, a fundamental understanding of how plasmon-induced hot-carriers drive chemical reactions is needed. This work examines how different hot carrier distributions affect electrochemical reactions of plasmonic nanoparticles, and how applied electrochemical potentials can be used to modify the reactivity of hot carriers.

Dr. Al-Zubeidi accepted a postdoctoral research associate position with the Link Lab at Rice University.