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Full Stream Name: Materials in Color

Research Educator: Tony Dylla

Principal Investigator: Zachariah Page

Credit Options: Spring & Fall

How do you use light to create materials?

Soft materials, such as plastics, are ubiquitous in our everyday lives, however their production requires large amounts of energy, often in the form of heat. Light represents an abundant and renewable alternative for soft materials fabrication, yet contemporary light-driven industrial chemistry relies on the use of high intensity ultraviolet (UV) rays. To overcome these hurdles, Materials in Color (MiC) will explore the use of organic dyes as efficient visible light-activated catalysts to generate next generation plastics. As part of this Research Stream, students will learn how to characterize the optical properties and reactivity profiles of colorful molecules (dyes) to ascertain governing principles that improve the efficiency of plastics production using visible light. 

The knowledge/skillsets involved in accomplishing this goal that will be taught include: 1) reading/writing basic organic chemical structures, 2) understanding how dyes interact with light, 3) understanding what a plastic (or polymer) is and associated sustainability efforts, 4) learning how to quantify the dye-light interactions (e.g., absorption and emission spectroscopy), 5) learning how to characterize the reactivity of dyes to make plastics (e.g., electrochemistry), and 6) learning how to purify dye molecules (e.g., chromatography). This knowledge base and developed skillset will then be utilized to pursue more advanced/applied research topics including: 3D printing, synthesis and purification of multi-functional hybrid materials, analysis of photodynamic therapies, spectroelectrochemical identification of key reaction intermediates, identification/extraction/use of natural dyes, and more.


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Chemistry, Medical Laboratory Science