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Published October 2013 | Supplemental Material
Journal Article Open

Involving Students in a Collaborative Project To Help Discover Inexpensive, Stable Materials for Solar Photoelectrolysis


In general, laboratory experiments focus on traditional chemical disciplines. While this approach allows students the ability to learn and explore fundamental concepts in a specific area, it does not always encourage students to explore interdisciplinary science. Often little transfer of knowledge from one area to another is observed, as students are given step-by-step instructions on how to complete their task with little involvement or problem solving. Herein, we provide an example of a real-time research laboratory experiment that is aimed at individual's exploration and development, with the scientific goal of discovering inexpensive, stable oxide semiconductors that can efficiently photoelectrolyze water to a useable fuel, hydrogen. Students create unique metal oxide semiconductors combinations, scan the samples for photoactivity using a purchased scan station, and report their findings to a collaborative database. A distinctive feature of the project is its ability to be implemented in a variety of educational levels with a breadth and depth of material covered accordingly. Currently, kits are being used in secondary education classrooms, at undergraduate institutions, or as outreach activities. The project provides students and scientists from different disciplines the opportunity to collaborate in research pertaining to clean energy and the global energy crisis.

Additional Information

© 2013 American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. Published: September 9, 2013. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation Center for Chemical Innovation in Solar Fuels (grant CHE-1305124). The authors would also like to acknowledge all of the outreach sites and participants. Additionally, thanks to the University of Wisconsin−Oshkosh CHEM221 Modern Analytical Chemistry class, especially Jason Maciolek and Matthew Trantow for their contributions to the data collected for the poster; Harry Gray, who created the term "Solar Army"; Robert Herrick II for his contributions to the SHArK software; Tom Fredrickson for his contributions to the SHArK system; Lee Sharpe and Casey Raymond for their discussions on spray deposition; and the students who participated in the Solar Army summer camp that created the instructional videos.

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Supplemental Material - ed300574x_si_001.pdf

Supplemental Material - ed300574x_si_002.pdf

Supplemental Material - ed300574x_si_003.docx

Supplemental Material - ed300574x_si_004.pdf


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