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Materials Science Research Lecture

Wednesday, May 1, 2024
4:00pm to 5:00pm
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Noyes 153 (J. Holmes Sturdivant Lecture Hall)
Converting CO2, water, and sunlight into liquid fuels: Towards affordable solar fuels and chemicals
Aisulu Aitbekova, postdoctoral scholar, Caltech,

***Refreshments at 3:45pm in Noyes lobby


Generating liquid solar fuels necessitates the development of technologies optimized at multiple levels. On a molecular level, we need to create catalytic materials that stably convert CO2 with high conversion rates and selectivity to desired products. On a system level, we need to engineer reactors that efficiently convert solar energy into heat required to run chemical reactions. This stringent requirement presents a challenge in converting CO2 into liquid fuels. In this talk, I will present our work on developing CO2 conversion systems from materials design to reactor engineering. Finally, I will demonstrate a tandem photoelectrochemical-photothermal approach that turns CO2, water, and sunlight into multicarbon products, paving the way toward affordable solar fuels and chemicals.

More about the Speaker:

Aisulu Aitbekova is a Kavli Nanoscience Institute Postdoctoral Fellow in the Harry Atwater Group at the California Institute of Technology. She earned her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Stanford University. Aisulu received her M.S. in Chemical Engineering Practice from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan. Her PhD work focused on developing novel catalytic materials. By synthesizing catalysts with well-defined properties (size, shape, and composition) and tracking their dynamic nature using X-ray absorption spectroscopy, she studied how a property of a catalyst affects its performance and used this knowledge to develop more efficient materials for thermocatalytic CO2 conversion and automotive exhaust emission control. Now, as a postdoctoral member in the Liquid Sunlight Alliance DOE Energy Hub, Aisulu develops solar-driven processes (photoelectrochemical CO2 reduction, photothermal ethylene oligomerization, and tandem photoelectrochemical/photothermal CO2 conversion into liquid fuels) through catalyst synthesis, device fabrication, and reactor engineering.

For more information, please contact Jennifer Blankenship by email at [email protected].