Driving the Production of Chemical Fuels from Sunlight

Wednesday April 6, 2022 5:00pm to 6:00pm
Kleinman Center Energy Forum Fisher Fine Arts Building, 4th Floor
220 S. 34th St.
19104 Philadelphia , PA

Please note this is a hybrid event. We look forward to welcoming guests to the Kleinman Center's Energy Forum. In accordance with the University of Pennsylvania's COVID-19 guidelines, if you are joining in-person you will be required to wear a mask and present a green PennOpen Pass (for members of the Penn community) or PennOpen Campus pass (for visitors) to attend. Further details for joining in-person or virtually will be emailed with your registration. Join us for a reception following the event!

The power accessible from one hour of sunlight hitting our earth’s surface is more than our annual global energy consumption. To effectively harness the energy of the sun as a sustainable resource, we must not only find a way to capture this diffuse energy source, but develop new technologies to store this energy.

Using solar photons to drive energy intensive reactions that take energy-poor feedstocks like water and carbon dioxide and generate energy-rich fuels offers a promising solution, akin to photosynthesis. However, efficient solar fuel production outside of a green leaf has yet to be achieved. To address the challenges limiting the development of artificial photosynthesis-based technologies, my research lab is learning (1) how to exploit energy-efficient proton-coupled electron transfer (PCET) processes for fuel production schemes and (2) how to integrate fuel-producing catalysts with photon capturing materials. Through this work, new approaches to efficiently convert solar photons into chemical energy are being developed.

Jillian Dempsey shares her work in this inaugural Vagelos Institute Lectureship in Energy Science and Technology.


Jillian Dempsey

Associate Professor

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Jillian L. Dempsey is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and currently holds the Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professorship. She is currently the Deputy Director of the Center for Hybrid Approaches in Solar Energy to Liquid Fuels (CHASE), and serves as the Director of Undergrad Studies for the Dept of Chemistry.

She received her S.B. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2005 where she worked in the laboratory of Prof. Daniel G. Nocera. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, she carried out research with Prof. Harry B. Gray and Dr. Jay R. Winkler at the California Institute of Technology, receiving her PhD in 2011. From 2011–2012 she was an NSF ACC Postdoctoral Fellow with Daniel R. Gamelin at the University of Washington.

In 2012 she joined the faculty at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jillian’s research group explores charge transfer processes associated with solar fuel production, including proton-coupled electron transfer reactions and electron transfer across interfaces. Her research bridges molecular and materials chemistry and relies heavily on methods of physical inorganic chemistry, including transient absorption spectroscopy and electrochemistry. She has received numerous awards including the Harry B. Gray Award for Creative Work in Inorganic Chemistry by a Young Investigator (2019), the J. Carlyle Sitterson Award for Teaching First-Year Students (2017), a Sloan Research Fellowship (2016), and a Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering (2015).

Karen Goldberg

Vagelos Professor in Energy Research

University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Karen Goldberg is the Vagelos Professor of Energy Research and is the director of the Vagelos Institute of Energy Science and Technology (VIEST).