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Deanna D’Alessandro

Deanna D’Alessandro

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).

An image is shown of a catalytic converter. At the upper left, a blue arrow pointing into a pipe that enters a larger, widened chamber is labeled, “Dirty emissions.” A small black arrow that points to the lower right is positioned along the upper left side of the widened region. This arrow is labeled, “Additional oxygen from air pump.” The image shows the converter with the upper surface removed, exposing a red-brown interior. The portion of the converter closes to the dirty emissions inlet shows small, spherical components in an interior layer. This layer is labeled, “Three-way reduction catalyst.” The middle region shows closely packed small brown rods that are aligned parallel to the dirty emissions inlet pipe. The final nearly quarter of the interior of the catalytic converter again shows a layer of closely packed small, red-brown circles. Two large light grey arrows extend from this layer to the open region at the lower right of the image to the label, “Clean emissions.”

Catalytic converters change carbon dioxide emissions from power plants into useful products, and, like the one shown here, are also found in cars.

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.

This is a photo of doctor Deanna D’Alessandro.

Dr. Deanna D’Alessandro is a functional materials researcher. Her work combines the inorganic and physical chemistry fields with engineering, working with transition metals to create new systems to power cars and convert energy (credit: image courtesy of Deanna D’Alessandro).

Optional Video:

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.

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