||John H. Thurston, Ph.D.
||The College of Idaho
Semiconductor mediated heterogeneous photocatalysis is assuming an increasingly important role in the development of a number of important technologies due to their ability to convert electromagnetic radiation directly into chemical energy. Notable applications of these materials include wastewater purification, alternative energy production, the degradation and mineralization of persistent environmental pollutants as well as the destruction of a number of viral and bacterial strains.
In the case of microbial disinfection, the ability of the semiconducting oxide to produce reactive oxygen species (ROSs) including OH?, H2O2 and O2- through the oxidation or reduction of adsorbed oxygen or water molecules is of primary importance. A considerable number of studies have illustrated that photogenerated ROSs are able induce the oxidation and degradation of a variety of cellular components, with the end result that basic metabolic processes can no longer be sustained and the cell dies.
The overall goal of my research group is to explore the development of new materials for the photochemical disinfection of potentially pathogenic microorganisms in the environment. The ability of the photocatalyst to utilize visible radiation, which comprises 40% of the incoming photon flux at the surface of the Earth would greatly improve the overall viability and efficiency of semiconducting catalysts for a variety of applications. As part of our on-going efforts, we are currently exploring new classes of hybrid composite materials for the facile generation of ROS under visible radiation for antimicrobial applications. The complexes that we have developed show excellent photochemical response, stability under electronic cycling and are themselves minimally toxic. Additionally, these materials excellent antibiotic activity against both gram negative and gram positive microorganisms.
Prefer at least a full year of Organic Chemistry with labs
There are a number of potential projects that would be available to students who chose to participate in research in my lab. These include:
- The fabrication and testing of new p-n heterojunction systems against model pollutants and microorganisms
- The fabrication of electrodes based on the composites that we have explored so that we can more accurately explore the photocurrent that is produced in these materials
- Assisting in the development and refinement of assays for microbial viability
- Assisting in the development and refinement of assays for ROS concentration
- Synthesizing and characterizing nanostructured oxide based materials. (This will require time at BSU as well as at C of I.)