The conversion of energy-poor feedstocks like water and carbon dioxide into energy-rich fuels involves multi-electron, multi-proton transformations. In order to develop catalysts that can mediate fuel production with optimum energy efficiency, this complex proton-electron reactivity must be carefully considered. Using a combination of electrochemical methods and time-resolved spectroscopy, we have revealed new details of how molecular catalysts mediate the reduction of protons to dihydrogen and the experimental parameters that dictate catalyst kinetics and mechanism. Through these studies, we are revealing opportunities to promote, control and modulate the proton-coupled electron transfer reaction pathways of catalysts.
Jillian L. Dempsey received her SB from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 where she worked in the laboratory of Prof. Daniel G. Nocera. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, she carried out research with Prof. Harry B. Gray and Dr. Jay R. Winkler at the California Institute of Technology. In 2011 she received her PhD and was awarded the Herbert Newby McCoy Award for Outstanding Achievements in Chemistry. From 2011–2012 she was an NSF ACC Postdoctoral Fellow with Daniel R. Gamelin at the University of Washington. In 2012 she joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where her research group explores charge transfer processes relevant to solar energy capture and conversion using a combination of electrochemistry and time-resolved spectroscopy. She has received the NSF CAREER Award, a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the Sitterson Award for Teaching First Year Students, the Hettleman Prize, and the Inter-American Photochemical Society Young Investigator Award.