Photo-electrochemical processes at the triple phase boundary

  • Andrew Collins

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


The main aim and ultimate final goal of the work carried out in this thesis is a drive towards a feasible system for light harvesting, which is in short, using the Sun’s energy to create electricity or a fuel for our energy requirements here on Earth. This work will see an approach using the triple phase boundary afforded by a microdroplet array. Although light harvesting is an ambition which has seen decades of work and uncountable man-hours, approaching it from the angle of utilizing the triple phase boundary between two immiscible liquids and a solid electrode is a new, and novel concept.Before any attempts towards a light harvesting technique can be made, we will need to have characterized and fully understood the mechanisms and nuances, both for dark and light processes, that are observed at the triple phase boundary. This initial process will start by selection of a suitable redox molecule, and exploring its reactivity in microdroplets under dark conditions. Once this has been achieved, an attempt can be made to use this knowledge, and implement it towards light harvesting. This will eventually include an attempt to couple photo-excited states with other molecules, this will be an important step if energy is ever able to be stored from such a system.This early phase will also see the need to employ many other techniques other than electrochemistry in an effort to aid in the understanding and characterization of the triple phase boundary at microdroplets. This will include travelling to other laboratories in search of specialized scientific skills and apparatus, such as electron paramagnetic resonance, or photocurrent spectroscopy. It will also see the need to build new equipment needed to conduct tests such as surface tension visualization, or new electrochemical cells for photocurrent measurement.In summary, this report will see initial characterization of the processes, both light and dark, that occur within the triple phase boundary of a microdroplet for a given redox molecule dissolved within. Early attempts at coupling excited states with other molecules are also explored. Serendipity has always played a part in scientific discovery and the work outlined in this report was no different. The choice of oil used for the organic phase microdroplet deposits yielded some interesting and unexpected results, and has been implicated as one of the key aspects of the photoreactions that have been explored.
Date of Award24 Apr 2012
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorFrank Marken (Supervisor)


  • triple phase
  • photo-electrochemistry
  • microdroplets

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