In this project, funded by the Macromolecular, Supramolecular and Nanochemistry Program of the Chemistry Division, Prof. Melissa A. Hines of Cornell University and her students will use solution-based chemical reactions and surface science techniques to create, understand, and control the performance of high-reactivity titanium dioxide surfaces in technologically relevant environments, including air and solution. This project will develop solution-based chemical techniques for producing well-controlled anatase surfaces in a laboratory environment, for removing growth-directing agents from the surfaces, and for preparing clean, reproducible anatase surfaces suitable for surface-science-based studies of chemical and photochemical reactivity. By correlating the atomic-scale structure of the grown surfaces with the amount of shape-controlling chemicals in the growth solution or the amount of surface-removing chemicals in the etching solution, researchers will obtain quantitative understanding of the surface-site-specific chemical reactions that control the growth and chemical structure of anatase surfaces. The knowledge and techniques garnered from this study will provide new understanding of anatase surfaces under technologically relevant conditions, will lead to the development of new chemical reactions for the production of high-reactivity anatase surfaces and nanocrystals, and will produce a platform for further surface-science studies of anatase reactivity.
This study will enable the rational improvement of nanoscale surfaces necessary for emerging sustainable technologies. The project will develop the substrates, the expertise, and the processing protocols necessary for understanding and controlling the performance of high-reactivity surfaces under technologically relevant conditions, including air and solution. By integrating research and education, this project will train postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students in areas of national need. The project is expected to increase student interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM fields) through a variety of activities targeting K-12 students and their teachers. Particular attention will be placed on increasing the involvement of historically underrepresented groups, such as women and racial and ethnic minorities.