Dr. Deanna D’Alessandro develops new metal-containing materials that demonstrate unique electronic, optical, and magnetic properties. Her research combines the fields of fundamental inorganic and physical chemistry with materials engineering. She is working on many different projects that rely on transition metals. For example, one type of compound she is developing captures carbon dioxide waste from power plants and catalytically converts it into useful products (see the figure below).
Another project involves the development of porous, sponge-like materials that are “photoactive.” The absorption of light causes the pores of the sponge to change size, allowing gas diffusion to be controlled. This has many potential useful applications, from powering cars with hydrogen fuel cells to making better electronics components. Although not a complex, self-darkening sunglasses are an example of a photoactive substance.
Watch this video to learn more about this research and listen to Dr. D’Alessandro (shown in the figure above) describe what it is like being a research chemist.