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ASU professor receives Department of Energy Career Award

Award-winning ASU researcher uses nature-inspired chemistry to develop clean energy

Assistant Professor Gary F. Moore, ASU School of Molecular Sciences.

August 07, 2020

Gary F. Moore, assistant professor in Arizona State University's School of Molecular Sciences and scientist in the ASU Biodesign Institute Center for Applied Structural Discovery, was awarded a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science’s Early Career Research Program. 

The 2020 DOE Early Career Award is highly competitive, with 76 recipients from across the nation, including 50 from universities. University-based recipients receive at least $750,000 over a five year period to support energy-related research.

Moore’s research group at ASU studies the fundamental science of energy conversion processes, including those required to use solar energy for producing fuels and other value-added chemical products. The research Moore and his team performs aims to unleash sustainable-chemistry and renewable-energy technologies that address global-scale demands. Biological energy transducing systems perform several related chemical processes at large scales. For example, photosynthesis uses sunlight to drive a series of complex chemical transformations that power our biosphere and ultimately provide the fossil fuels our modern societies rely on.

“Nature provides inspiration and design considerations for the constructs we build and the chemistries we develop,” Moore said.

In addition to studying solar energy conversion pathways, the design and synthesis of catalysts is also central to the research efforts of Moore and his team. Catalysts provide low-energy pathways for carrying out a chemical transformation at a desired rate. For this reason, they are used in myriad industrial applications and are imperative to the bioenergetics of all living organisms. Moore and his group place a strong emphasis on developing effective methods for interfacing catalytic materials with those that harness solar energy while seeking to better understand the relationships between the structure and function properties of the resulting architectures. Moore’s research provides graduate students and young professionals a wealth of opportunities.

“We are an interdisciplinary group of researchers,” Moore said in describing his research group, “developing nanoscale materials that are fundamentally interesting and address societal challenges.”

Moore’s Early Career Award-winning research proposal, "Understanding and Controlling Multielectron, Multisubstrate Reactions Involving Complex Architectures and Interfaces," brings together these areas of research to synthesize materials that promote solar photochemistry via improving control over electron and proton transfer processes. This research will further basic understandings regarding the light absorption, charge transfer and catalytic steps that mediate the overall processes of converting energy between photonic, electronic and chemical forms.

“Our overall goals,” Moore said, “include moving beyond the use of traditional model systems and toward studying solar photochemistry in environments encountered in industrial applications while developing the ‘green’ chemistry required to achieve this in an environmentally and economically responsible manner.”    

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