• Name: Jerry D. Harris, Ph.D.
  • Institution: Northwest Nazarene University
  • Department: Chemistry
  • Phone: 208-457-8883
  • Email: jdharris@nnu.edu

Summary: The focus of the research in the Harris lab is the syntheis and characterization of nanomaterials and their use in photovoltaics and photocatalysis. The research explores how the nanoparticles physiochemical parameteres such as size, shape, method of synthesis and surface alterations influence the materials chemical and/or photochemical properties. The research also explores how the physiochemical parameters influence the environmental and physiological effects caused by exposure to nanomaterials. The research is part of a larger collaboration with Drs. Pak, Pfau, and Thomas labs at Idaho State University. The collaboration seeks to explore how the chemistry (Harris and Pak labs) of nanomaterials impacts the toxicology (Pfau lab) of the materials, and how the toxicology is manifested in gene expression (Thomas lab).

Minimum Classes: General Chemistry (1 year), Organic Chemistry (1 year, very helpful but not required.

Projects: For this project, students will learn to synthesis ZnO and CuInS2. These two materials were chosen because they are widely used and considered relatively non-hazardous. As the students develop their synthetic skills, other more hazardous materials may be prepared, such as CdS. The more hazardous materials will be handled in fume hoods and gloveboxes to minimize contact. The synthesis for all of these materials is well documented in the literature, and generally involves a sol-gel process or precipitation. The prepared nanoparticles will be exposed to simulated environments such as physiological pH, heat and humidity. Samples will also be studied in terms of their decomposition and byproducts. Data will be collected used to establish a baseline for cell culture studies. Students and the PI will be gathering data and characterizing the materials using as SEM and TEM to observe particle size and morphology, by X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to determine surface composition, by powder X-ray diffraction to determine structure type, by spectrophotometry to determine the materials optical properties, by ICP-OES and atomic absorption spectroscopy to determine bulk elemental composition, and by thermogravimetric analysis to determine thermal properties of the materials. It is expected that for a given composition, size and morphology will play a crucial role in the toxicology of these materials. Once characterized, the materials will be transferred to ISU for toxicology studies.

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