Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Science (BS)




William R. McNamara

Committee Members

Nathan M. Kidwell

Christopher J. Abelt

Qun Li


Concerns over increasing global energy demands, finite fossil fuel reserves, and climate change have prompted the investigation into clean renewable energy sources. Artificial photosynthesis is an active area of clean energy research that uses solar energy to produce hydrogen gas as fuel. This process splits water in two half-reactions: the oxidation of H2O to O2 and the reduction of H+ to H2. Photocatalytic systems containing a chromophore, electron donor, and catalyst are used to study the hydrogen evolution reaction of artificial photosynthesis. To make these systems effective for widespread use, inexpensive catalysts from earth-abundant first-row transition metals must be developed.

Four new iron polypyridyl complexes containing pendant amines are proposed as catalysts for proton reduction. Electrochemical analysis suggests that these complexes are active complexes for proton reduction. When added to a photocatalytic system, these complexes produce hydrogen gas for over 24 hours. The stability of these catalysts in a photochemical system promotes further investigation into their structure and catalytic properties.

Further, a photochemical screening approach is developed to explore a wide breadth of complexes for hydrogen generation. This method offers a cost-effective and efficient method of screening. The approach is used to screen three ligands of interest and various metal precursors. Nickel complexes containing these ligands are shown to produce hydrogen in a photocatalytic system. Electrochemical analysis of these complexes suggests that they may be degrading during testing. More work is needed to determine if these complexes are active complexes for hydrogen generation.

Available for download on Friday, May 09, 2025

On-Campus Access Only