nanomaterial synthesis for solar cell applications
One area of research that is being explored in the Zemke lab is creating functional nanomaterials for solar energy conversion. We use semiconductor nanoparticles and functionalize the surfaces of these materials to investigate their potential efficiency at harvesting light energy. Potential student projects include synthesis of materials, characterization of materials, and photoelectrochemistry of materials.
ion detection with silver nanoparticles
Recently the lab has become interested in using specifically-functionalized silver nanoparticles for the detection of metal ions. Several ions have been targeted within the group such as lithium ions, lead ions, cobalt ions and nickel ions. This project can take on many forms as there are many ions of interest. Additionally, students can design ligands for specific or broad ion binding. Students projects within this area could include nanoparticle synthesis, functionalization with commercial ligand, ligand design and synthesis, and ion binding studies.
magnetic nanoparticles for analyte binding from waste water
A budding area of research in the lab surrounds the investigation of magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles with specialized polymers on the surface for the removal of small molecule contaminants from waste water or other commercial streams. We are currently working to create polymers imprinted for biomarkers such as caffeine as well as environmental contaminant such as small molecule pesticides and small molecule pharmaceuticals. Potential student projects include synthesis of nanomaterials and binding studies of targeted analytes.
synthesis of novel affinity columns for chromatography
One of our materials projects that doesn't involve nanomaterials deals with finding a novel and cost-effective material for replacing the expensive cibacron blue-based affinity chromatography materials. We are currently investigating several small molecules and substrates to construct effective and potentially modular materials for protein purification.
math fluency of students in general chemistry
In addition to traditional chemistry research as mentioned above, the Zemke lab is also interested in projects related to chemical education. One project allows researchers to take a look at several markers that indicate the preparedness or fluency of students taking general chemistry at WSU. Student researchers have analyzed ACT: Math scores, HS GPA, and pre-term Math Assessment scores in terms of how these markers correlate to success in general chemistry. Potential projects include further study on markers that correlate mathematical fluency to general chemistry success. Additionally, researchers can identify and carry out specific interventions pertaining to this topic.