Sophia Hayes, PhD

Professor, Department of Chemistry

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The Hayes Group works to develop new ways to filter the CO2 produced by power plants and other sites. The technique, called carbon capture and sequestration, involves capturing the carbon dioxide in the emissions of these plants and either turning it into commodity chemicals or injecting it underground where it can form minerals. By doing that, atmospheric carbon dioxide can be reduced that would otherwise be released, thereby reducing the unwanted greenhouse effects seen in the past and continuing today. (Similar materials have also been envisioned for methane capture.) Hayes and her group use nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to interrogate the 13C isotope present in carbon dioxide and its other forms–as a physisorbed gas molecule, as a supercritical fluid, or in the dissolved phase such as water or salty brines envisioned in geological systems. NMR can also investigate the conversion of CO2 to bicarbonate and carbonate, which are involved in mineralization of CO2 — a means by which the CO2 can be trapped underground. Other areas of our work touch on energy-efficient technologies, such as “sustainable chemistry” routes to metal oxide thin films, using solution-phase precursors for electronic devices. The Hayes Group also does specialized studies of light-matter interactions in semiconductors, which are useful for solar cell materials, photodetectors, and other materials envisioned for photocurrent-generating devices.