SoCal Infantry

Welcome to the Southern California SEAL infantry! SoCal SEAL students check here for important information regarding the SEAL program at Caltech

Important dates for 2017-2018 school year:

SEAL Kickoff- Sept 30, 2017 10am-12pm

      (Link to Kickoff Talks- email Michelle for password)

SEAL Con IX- May 12, 2018 10am-2pm

2017-18 SEAL Roster

Every member of a SoCal SEAL team needs to sign-up on the roster. This ensures you will receive communications about upcoming events and helps us keep track of our membership. You also won’t get a certificate or T-shirt at SEAL Con unless your name is on this list!

Roster Sign-Up

SEAL Permission Slip

All SoCal SEAL students need to fill out this permission slip and return it back to Michelle DeBoever either via email, mail or in person through their mentor. Students under 18 must have the form signed by a parent or guardian.

Permission Slip

SoCal SEAL Blog

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Week of 10/16-10/22

First blog post of the school year! I know not everyone has started their research yet, but it’s important to record the week’s events in your Drive doc so we can record how you’re progressing. Even if it’s just the brainstorming stage of research, recording those thoughts and ideas is just as important as recording procedures and data. Sharing ideas with each other early on can lead to even better projects for the upcoming year.

So far we have updates from San Marino and Crescenta Valley. San Marino has 2 sub-teams. Team one did some great controls testing both Fe3+ ( iron nitrate) and Fe2+ (iron sulfate) to see what the difference between these compounds would be. Research of the Pourbaix Diagram for Fe2O3 from showed that that this form of iron (III) oxide was electrically active at around 0.5 eV at pH 13, which was the pH in which we test our plates. As predicted the Fe3+ performed better (light teal) than the Fe2+ (dark blue). Next they added explored combinations of iron and copper, creating 6 ratios between Fe3+, Fe2+, and Cu2+, with the proportions being either 50:50 or 100:0. All solution were 0.10 M before mixing, and all the spots were pipetted and 5μL in size. Results coming soon!

The Blank Team at San Marino spotted, fired, and tested a control Fe(NO3)3 solution with varying concentrations of Fe(NO3)3. They wanted to test the effect of varied concentrations on the data as well as the durability of the spot. They tested four spots of 20 μL each (100%, 80%, 60%, 40%, and 20% Fe(NO3)3). After firing, a majority of the material fell off of the plate for the 60%, 30%, and 40% Fe(NO3)3 concentrations. The 100% Fe(NO3)3 and 80% Fe(NO3)3 concentrations still had material left on the plate, but they also lost some material as well. Results coming soon!

Crescenta Valley has split into 3 subgroups. Team 1: We made a 0.1 M BiVO4 solution. We want to continue our work from last year with BiVO4, and see how well BiVO4 works with Ni and Fe compared to Co. Team 2: Our goal this year is to experiment with different methods of alleviating the coffee ring effect. We have chosen three areas of focus: UV rays, a thin layer of silicone oil, and an ozone cleaner. This week we made a plate spotted with 0.1 M Fe(NO3)2 as a control plate. We plan to use the same solution in order to test the effects of the three methods listed previously. For the upcoming week, we plan to start buying parts for our ozone cleaner. Team 3: Our goal is to experiment with new materials and metals. After discussing with our mentors, we decided Mn with Ni might be a viable option based on a research paper we were looking at. More research will be needed to figure out how to make the Ni and Mn solution like in the paper. In the meantime, we made one plate with .1 M MnCl and .05 M NiCl, plated straight on top of each other. We will continue to experiment with new metals and see if we find anything.

Thanks for the updates CVHS and SMHS! Looking forward to hearing from everyone else soon. And remember to email you permission slips and sign up on the roster!!!!




Week of 4/10-4/16

BIG REMINDER: SEAL Con 8 is just under a month away on Sat May 13th!!! Everyone should be starting to prep their talks and posters and winding up experimental work. Since there will be less research happening and we want to leave final results for reveal at the conference, this will be the last “Week in Review” for the school year. Thanks everyone for your diligent updates and thoughtful comments and questions. Hopefully we’ll be able to make this blog work even better next year!

Very brief updates this week from San Marino and Poly. Throughout month of March, Poly continued to have issues with HARPOON data not showing up onto the software. Moving on they tried out a new website called the Materials Project, which is a huge database of compounds with information regarding band gap, stability, etc. After researching on the Materials Project database, they decided to testing a Yttrium Manganese compound by mixing manganese sulfate monohydrate and yttrium nitrate hexahydrate. They are currently making the material and will test it next week.

San Marino had some problems with their kiln getting too hot and damaging the FTO plates making them non-conductive. They will try and even lower setting next time to avoid this. They also have a new idea for testing plates without the SEAL kit. They would attach the leads of the voltmeter to the plate, attach and tape the black gel template to the bottom of the bowl and line up the plate with the spot on the bottom of the bowl. Then they would turn the setting on the voltmeter to current, such as 10 mA, and shine a flashlight and measure the current. No bias voltage! The other San Marino team had problems with the software and were unable to test but observed that their NaVO4, Fe(NO3)2, and CuSO4 materials turned into a yellow orange color. The spots with only NaVO4 washed off when they tried to test it. Next week they will try to test the plates again.

Thanks everyone and see you all at SEAL Con 8!! :)

Weeks of 3/20-4/9

Spring break is still affecting schedules so I’ve combined a few weeks of updates into one post. An official email will be going out soon, but just a reminder that SEAL Con is a month away! Now is the time to start wrapping up and finish those last few experiments so you can put together posters and talks for May 13.

Starting with an update from Alverno, they are continuing our work on the Acid project and CO2 Reduction Project. The finished plates for the Acid Project are Iron Nitrate, Zinc Nitrate, Nickel Nitrate and Copper Nitrate. The CO2 Reduction project has finished researching what is needed for it, and completed tissue plates of copper and nickel nitrate, copper and iron nitrate, copper and chromium chloride, copper and zinc nitrate, copper and bismuth vanadate, and copper and manganese sulfate. The ratios of the spots are 10:10, 15:5, 12:8, 5:15, 8:12, 2:18, 18:2, 13:7. The long-term goal is to reduce CO2 into Methanol. The group also finally solved some issues with a malfunctioning SEAL kit so they will be able to get results from all these plates in the coming weeks.

Mayfield’s Team SEA has been focusing efforts on a combination of iron and tungsten that produced good results in one combination on a previous plate. 3 future attempts at various ratios of iron and tungsten showed now significant results. They decided to try one more plate of Fe, W adding in some Co as well as a plate of just Co & Ni. They also are going to test plates of Ti & Fe and Ti, Fe & Cu. Team RAM’s attempts to lower the ratio of Bi and W in their Bi, V, Ni, W combinations didn’t prove to have any positive effect on the results. The next attempt will be to add more Ni and also try Cu instead of Ni with ratios of 8:1:1:8, 8:1:1:13, 8:1:1:16 Bi:V:W:Ni/Cu. Team PEAK is remaking their successful FeZn material which has been less and less reproducible overtime with a new Fe solution to see if that will improve activity again. They also started work on a voluntary(!) research paper to practice their scientific writing skills. 

San Marino’s Wand Team made a new plate that consisted of sodium metavanadate base, cobalt chloride, cerium, and nickel solutions.  The first solution was 20:10:20:0, second was 20:10:40:0, third was 20:0:10:20, fourth was 20:0:20:10, fifth was 20:10:0:20, and sixth was 20:15:10:10. Solutions one and two had precipitate.  Solutions one, two, and six were orange; solutions three and four were yellow, and solution five was pink.  Each spot on the plate had a total of 50 microliters of solution, and five spots of each solution.  The plate was heated. Next week, they plan on testing this plate as well as the one made at the last meeting.

The Red Team drop-casted two plates: one with sodium vanadate, iron nitrate, copper sulfate and one with different ratios of just iron nitrate and sodium vanadate. The first plate has three sections with just sodium vanadate, iron nitrate, copper sulfate and three sections of (1) sodium vanadate and iron nitrate, (2) iron nitrate and copper sulfate, (3) sodium vanadate and copper sulfate. All of the solutions are 0.05 M and each space is 10 microliters total. The combinations have 5 microliters of each of the two included solutions. The second plate has groups of three dots, with each group of three having ratios of 10:0, 9:1, 8:2, 7:3, 6:4, and 5:5 microliters of sodium vanadate and iron nitrate. The last three ratios were in groups of two with 4:6, 3:7, 2:8, and 1:9 microliters of sodium vanadate and iron nitrate. All of the solutions are 0.05 M. Next week they plan to test these two plates and one made before spring break.

Finally Beckman HS has been busy. Last time, Group 1 decided that both Mn(NO3)2 and CuZn shared similar characteristics with effective photocatalysts and decided to make the solutions. As usual, the procedure consisted of the UV treatment prior to spotting, and they used the established 0.03M iron standard. They tested these two plates and made another plate to test next week. Group 2 made two plates last week: a plate of 0.03M Cu(NO3)2, 0.03M of Zn(NO3)2, and 0.03M Fe(NO3)3, in ratio of 1:1:3 respectively, and another plate of 0.03M of Cu(NO3)2, 0.03M Al(NO3)3 and, 0.03M Fe(NO3)3 in ratio of 1:1:3 respectively. Just like Group 1, these plates were UV treated before spotting, and were air-dryed and fired. They tested both plates and made an new plate with different ratios of 0.03M Copper (II) Nitrate, 0.03M Iron (III) Nitrate, and 0.03 Zinc Nitrate in a ratio of 1:3:1 respectively. When testing this plate they used a 1:1 ratio of 0.2M NaOH and 0.2M NaSO3 for the bath used in the SEAL kit. They plan on analyzing their numerical results next week. 

Group 3 decided to make a new plate by diluting the 0.04M Co(NO3)2 to 0.02M. This was used to make a plate of 0.03M Fe(NO3)2 and 0.02M Co(NO3)2 with a ratio of 3:1. The reasoning for this is because when they tested BHS-3-51 last week, they surmised that a plate with more iron and less of the other metals would yield better results. And because of cobalt’s red color and physical properties, they decided to continue testing with cobalt again.  The first plate tested was BHS-3-52, which was created by diluting 0.04M Cobalt Nitrate to 0.02M Cobalt Nitrate and and 0.04M Iron (II) Nitrate to 0.02M Iron (II) Nitrate and spotting the plate with different ratios. The second plate tested was BHS-3-53, which was created by diluting 0.04M Cobalt Nitrate to 0.02M Cobalt Nitrate and 0.04M Iron (II) Nitrate to 0.02M Iron (II) Nitrate, which was spotted on the plate with a 3:1 ratio respectively.

Last time, Group 4 began to prepare a 0.03 M Fe2(NO3) because the one that they did previously had an intense coffee ring effect. However, the spots were unfortunately not solid enough to test or even fire. They then spotted a multi-ratio plate with Iron (III) Nitrate and Copper (II) Nitrate in a ratio of 1 Fe: 1 Cu, 2 Fe: 1 Cu, 3 Fe: 1 Cu, 3 Fe: 2 Cu with a molarity of 0.05M. The plate was exposed to treated with UV light for five minutes. The plate will be air-dried and fired later; they plan on testing this plate next week. Aside from their respective labs, the 4 teams also were introduced to new lab techniques. They had a very brief introduction on how chromatography works and the need for almost needle-like, minuscule amounts of liquid, and proceeded to take turns making such micropipettes from ordinary capillary tubes.

Weeks of 3/6-3/19

With lots of schools on spring break, another 2 weeks have gone by. Same few teams have been posting, so thank you, but the rest of you please remember to update your google drive weekly. There have also been sadly very few comments and conversations on the blog so be sure to check the posts to see if you can answer or ask a question for a fellow team.

Poly worked up their HARPOON data after downloading the Image J software onto their laptops. Though they found no detectable oxygen evolution spots, they are determined not to give up and have reached out to the HARPOON experts at UW Oshkosh for some guidance. Good luck guys!

Mayfield’s Team SEA is zeroing in on a hit they got back with one of their colored vs non-colored tests. The combination was FeW so they have made two plates with varying ratios of the elements to test next time. Team RAM found results from BiVNiW 8:1:1:8, 8:1:1:13, 8:1:1:16 combinations to be ok, so they are making a new plate with the same metals, but less Bi and W (6:1:0.5:1, 6:1:0.5:5, 6:1:0.5:8). They also looked back at last year’s good results with BiVZn and decided to make a plate with BiVZnW to compare if adding W can help. Finally Team PEAK finished making plates 24 (CoZn 6:1 with layers) and 25 (FeZn 6:1 with layers). Results were not very good. Unfortunately all attempts at recreating a CoFeZn hit have gotten steadily worse overtime. They also made plate 26 (half CoZn 6:1, half FeZn 6:1) but the first layer was the Fe/Co and the second layer after drying on the hot plate was the Zn. This is to test whether different materials when applied in different layers make an impact on the plate’s success.

San Marino’s Red team were able to test only one plate that contains 10μL of combinations of Cu, Mn, and Ni because they spotted on the wrong side for one of the plates. They baked the plates at a higher temperature (around 650 C) which looks like it affected the FTO properties of the plate since the results showed no significant current. This week they made one plate using 3 different solutions: 1) 0.05M V; 2) 0.05M Fe + Cu; and 3) 0.05M V + Fe + Cu.  They decided to keep the concentration at 0.05M because that is the “sweet spot” at which there is reduced or no flaking (as supported by previous plate tests/experiments).  Each drop had a total of 10 microliters of solution. They added three drops of each solution at the three corners of the plate.  Next week, they plan on 1) testing this week’s plate, and 2) creating an identical copy of this week’s plate, but with some surfactant (soap) to see if the lowered surface tension of the solutions will reduce the coffee ring effect of each drop.

Lastly Beckman HS decided to take some time to reflect and do a bit of research. Group 1 is looking for a new element that is a strong photoanode and looking for elements that fall within a certain bandgap. These elements need to be cost-effective and abundant. Last week they tested a Nickel (III) Nitrate plate that did not have good results with most of the graphs concentrated in the blue region. For this reason, they are looking for a better element rather than jumping in immediately. Some of the things they are now considering from their research are zinc-related and chromium-related compounds. They are going to make 0.04 M Manganese  Nitrate(Mn(No3)2) and 0.04 M of CuZn solutions. They will spot two plates of each solution. Based on their research, they found that platinum iridium, titanium oxide, and ruthenium shared the characteristics of being white and having bandgaps between 1.2eV and 2.8eV. Group 1, then studied the band gaps of materials that were stored in the stockroom. Since Manganese Nitrate is both white and has a bandgap of 2.8 eV, they decided to try 0.04 M solution of it. They also found that CuZn has similar traits as platinum iridium.

Beckman’s Group 2 epoxied their 0.03M aluminum nitrate/copper (II) nitrate/iron (III) nitrate plate and will run it next week. They then researched other candidates for testing, looking into iron and its capabilities and other red oxides. They decided to experiment with old plates in order to clarify the unclear results that they got in the past. The areas that did not have spots still gave them results, which led them to suspect an error either from the plate or the box. Therefore, they planned to retest the plates (0.03M of Copper Nitrate (Cu(NO3)2), 0.03M Aluminum Nitrate (Al(NO3)3)and, 0.03M Iron Nitrate (Fe(No3)3) in ratio of 1:1:3 respectively). Also, they wanted to see how different the results will come out by using Zn(NO3)3 instead of Al(NO3)3 so they made another plate of 0.03 M Cu(NO3)2,0.03M of Zinc Nitrate (Zn(NO3)2), and 0.03M Fe(NO3)3, in ratio of 1:1:3 respectively. They plan to do UV treatment to both plates.

Group 3 is mixing different ratios of Cu (II) Nitrate and Iron (III) Nitrate that are both at 0.04M. They UV treated the plates before spotting and exposed them for five minutes. They tested the plate with coating method, which is spotting the plate with one compound and after they air dried it, then putting the second compound on. This did not work so they are making another plate by mixing two metal solutions in a fixed ratio. The resulting spots were very dark and they believed that this happened due to the high concentrations. Therefore they made a new plate with 0.02 M Co(NO3)-diluted from 0.04M CoNO3-  and 0.02 M Fe(NO3)2-diluted from 0.04M Fe(NO3)2 with different ratios. They made their plate with a different Molarity because they found out that  mixing method produced better results than that of coating method. However, they weren’t sure whether higher or lower concentration would give better results, which inspired them to test different molarities.

Group 4 ran their 0.03M Copper (II) Nitrate plate last week and the results were not that good. Most of the graph was in the blue zone indicating not strong results. This week, they researched other potential photoanodes and came across carbon nitride, which had not been heard of before. The American Chemistry Society website said it is a good photoanode that allotted high results, but it is not in the school inventory :(

Last week this group spotted 0.03MCo Nitrate 2 without the  iron standard. The results were not satisfying because of intense coffee ring effect seen despite their usage of UV treatment. They believe that this may have been a procedural error during the drying stage, so they produced another plate with 0.03 M Co(NO3)2 so that they can make sure that the plate can be spotted with no procedural error, especially during the drying stage. The spots will be tested during the next meeting.

Week of 2/27-3/5

A couple more schools included updates this week, but many others haven’t posted since the Annual Meeting. We want to hear what you’ve been up to! Write up a quick recap and then begin weekly posting again. SEAL Con is just over 2 months away so now is the time to ask questions and get help so you can finish off your research project as best you can before May 13.

First up, Beckman HS Group 1 tested a Ni(NO3)3 0.04M plate, but it didn’t have very good results. They also prepared a plate with 0.04 M Fe(NO3)3 which had shown promising results last time on an identical plate. They are currently testing the third iteration of this plate. The first iteration had high results but the second seemed to have a leak in the epoxy, which may have affected the results, so they are following up with their results with a duplicate of the original plate. Group 2 is testing a plate with multiple elements (Cu(NO3)2, Fe(NO3)3, and Al(NO3)3 all with 0.03 M). They decided to do this after doing research last week and concluded that this combination might have promising results. In the long run, they plan to consider remaking and improving this plate, and perhaps altering the molarities and the ratios to see how that might affect their results. Group 3 is trying two techniques in plating. They used cobalt nitrate and iron nitrate and tried layering them on the plate (iron on top of cobalt), as well as mixing them and spotting them. They saw both ideas at the CCI conference and saw good results. For the future, they will check their results to see which method works better and use this as a basis for future trials and use this technique for other combinations if it does show positive results. Group 4 is testing a Cu(NO3)2 with 0.03M duplicate plate after getting some red results on the original. The new results were not outstanding, so they decided to try different metal nitrates but want to stay with the same ratio for future tests.

Next, Poly was finally able to run a HARPOON experiment! Their mentor, Josef, was able to fix the power supply box. They took pictures every 30 seconds for 15 min of a plate spotted with the HARPOON standard, Ni:Fe:CO 1:2:2. Next week they will do a data analysis of these photos in ImageJ as well as start on Raman Spectroscopy experiments.

San Marino’s Team Photosynthesis created two duplicate plates identical to the plates made previously following this configuration to ensure consistency:


They were unable to test previous plates since they lost one and the other was left in the kiln for too long, resulting in the warping of the FTO coat on the plate making it nonconductive. They used the metals (Cu, Mn, Ni) because they are found in a photosynthesizing protein. Manganese is suspected to be the material flaking, and expect to see brown flakes floating in the NaOH solution if so, as well as inconsistent measurements of current in specific areas. If there is flaking, they plan to ozone treat the plate and make an identical plate to test. If even after there is still flaking, they will ozone treat individual plates, with each metal having its own plate, isolating each metal from each other. Also, they are looking into the coffee-ring effect that can result from drop-casting, and will test the two identical plates next week and talk about what they found about the coffee-ring effect.

San Marino’s Team Wand, also could not test the plate they made last week because it had the same problem of the FTO melting.  The temperature of the kiln was too high and the plate was left inside for too long, causing the FTO coating to melt and become warped, similar to cellophane.  During this week’s meeting, they remade the plate that was ruined, which contained vanadate and varying ratios of nickel.

Concordia analyzed results from the CON8 plate that was zapped with the Tesla coil and concluded that it discolored the spots of bismuth nitrate and ammonium vanadate. The discolored spots that they used the Tesla coil on had very low results. Then, they brainstormed to figure out what to work on next. They recorded previously used metal oxide solutions and wrote down others which they would like to test. They didn’t officially decide what materials to test yet, but we prepared a blank plate for next time.

Finally Mayfield’s Team SEA tested the aluminum copper plate, but it did not produce quantifiable results. They researched a few other good conductive metals but for now will stick with the elements they already decided on, testing the iron chromium plate next week. Team RAM tested plate 14 that contains bismuth, vanadium, and nickel with the ratio of 8:1:8, 8:1:13, 8:1:16. The results we’re not bad and performed better than plates 11 and 12. They also spotted plate 15 containing bismuth, vanadium, nickel, and tungsten with the ratio of 8:1:1:8, 8:1:1:13, 8:1:1:16. Team PEAK tested plate 23 (split CoZn 6:1 and FeZn 6:1 with multiple layers), but only got dark blue results. They plan to test the same materials with layering again, but without annealing them in between adding the layers. The previous plate was annealed after adding the first layer, which caused large spreading of metal solution when the second layer was applied and may have impacted results in unexpected ways. They started making plates 24 (FeZn 6:1 with layers) and 25 (CoZn 6:1 with layers, which they will finish next meeting with the additional layers.




Weeks of 2/13-2/26

Double post this time- last week only had a couple updates, and it looks like only the same few teams posted again this week. The blog will only be useful if everyone is consistent with their weekly posting, so please set reminders to update your google drive doc every week (and thank you to those teams who do post consistently)!

Poly attempted HARPOON one more time, but ran into a new hurdle: the power supply wasn’t working properly. There is also a battery pack power supply that should work with a fresh set of AAs, so you can try that next time. The Poly team is also gearing up to do Raman Spectroscopy on their bismuth nitrate material. They learned all about Stokes, Anti-Stokes and Raleigh spectroscopy and have decided to use Stokes for this experiment. If you want to learn about this method, reach out to the Poly team!

Mayfield’s Team PEAK added a second layer to their split Co/Fe-Zn plate (6:1 ratio). They are testing the hypothesis that applying multiple layers of solution onto the same spot will increase the success of a plate and aid in lessening the negative effects of contamination. The first half of the plate possesses two layers, while the second contains three. Team RAM finally got their sodium metavanadate to make a new vanadium solution. They made a plate with BiVNi in a ratio of 8:1:1, 8:1:5, 8:1:5. The results were in the light blue region, so they are continuing in that vein making a BiVNi plate with ratios of 8:1:1, 8:1:13, 8:1:16. Team SEA has decided to test various ratios of 2 metal combinations in more depth and so are using the following scheme below. The plan to eventually test Ti, Fe, Cr, Mg, Al, Cu all this way. 

sea 1 sea 2

Week of 2/6-2/12

Sorry for the late post this week! Starting off Crescenta Valley made another plate using just 0.1 M BiVO4 and another using 0.1 M BiVO4 layered with 0.05 M Co, and BiVO4 layered with .05 M Ni and .05 M Fe in a 1:1 ratio. They want to test the effects of Co on BiVO4 compared to Ni:Fe. They also made a solution of 0.05 M Fe(NO3)3 using ethyl alcohol instead of water. Their mentor suggested that this might help with the coffee ring effect; they will spot two solutions, one with water and one with ethyl alcohol, and see if the coffee ring effect is diminished.

Beckman HS’s Group 1 researched to find future work: band gaps of different metals. They also UV treated a new plate of 0.04 Iron (III) Nitrate because they had positive results last time they tested it. They wish to continue to test the effect of UV treatment and find optimal metal oxides/specific molarities that work well with UV treatment. Group 2 tested a UV treated plate with ratio of Nickel, Iron, Aluminum (1:3:1; 0.03:0.09:0.03). They are planning to compare with a non-UV treated plate (same ratio). Since Nickel is a less than optimal photoanode, they researched other metals and decided to replace Nickel with Copper next time. Group 3 finished spotting the layered plate they started last week (0.04M Cobalt(II) Nitrate over 0.04M Iron(III) Nitrate) by adding the Cobalt Nitrate layer on top. They fired the mixture plate (mixture of 0.04M Cobalt Nitrate and 0.04M Iron Nitrate). Their goal is to compare the methods of mixing two metals and layering them because there were various groups at CCI with positive results that used the layering method. They re-tested the Cu-Ni-Fe plate because of dark current issues they had last time they ran it. Group 4 epoxied 0.03M Copper (II) Nitrate plate and ran it. Group 1 tested 0.04 Copper (II) Nitrate in the past, so they will be comparing the results with each other and determine which molarity works best with Copper.

San Marino Red team decided to use Ni(NO3)2, MnCl2, and CuSO4 to test these materials for flaking and/or corrosion. They found very little flaking—a good sign! Their hypothesis for this finding is that the absence of significant flaking was due to the low concentration of the spot solutions (only 0.05 M) and leaving it on the hot plate for an 30 extra minutes. The photoactivity of the spots was not as high probably because the plate was not baked and that the spot solutions had a lower concentration than usual. The spots changed color as the plate was being tested (as the current was flowing)—–Not a good sign! This could mean corrosion or (a) chemical reaction(s) may be occurring. For next week’s meeting, they plan on testing this same plate after it is baked in the kiln.

The San Marino Wand team decided to continue with the hypothesis that a good catalyst would be a good light absorber. However, this time, knowing to focus on oxygen evolution, they looked towards compounds such as BaNiO3 and Ni2Se3 and NiFeO, and NiMO on the OER side. On the light absorber side, Silicon. They ended up plating: Cu, Co, Iron, and Nickel, on a base of ammonium vanadate. Testing the plate they found nickel worked best so they made a new plate with just ammonium vanadate and different ratios of nickel.

Mayfield’s PEAK team retested the plate of FeCoZn from last week with  new wire epoxied in a different corner. While this did decrease activity of the very active spot next to the old wire, the spot was still quite active compared to the rest of the plate. Their next experiment is to test efficiency of multiple layers compared to a single layer so they made plates 21 (FeZn with multiple layers) and 22 (CoZn with multiple layers). Team SEA got marginal results from a 4:7 ratio of their colored to non-colored metals. Retesting the old plate didn’t yield good results, but remaking the materials the result was reproducible. They will be looking at 1:8 and 5:8 ratios next. Team RAM has disappointing results from their Bismuth, Vanadium, and Tungsten and Bismuth, Vanadium, and Nickel plates. Perhaps a new solution of vanadium will help. If any other teams have tips for using ammonium metavanadate since it is not very soluble, please comment!

Concordia attempted three different tests. First, tried to test CONa3 which was bismuth nitrate and ammonium vanadate with the concentration ratio ranging from 1:1 to 1:1.7, the higher being bismuth nitrate. Unfortunately the epoxy fell out when they put it in the sodium sulfite electrolyte solution because it wasn’t dry yet. Second, they used the tesla coil gun and shocked the CON8 plate for testing for next week. The spots changed from a yellow to a reddish brown color. Third, they tried to do our own UV/Ozone treatment. However, due to the lack of appropriate materials in the lab, they were unable to do the testing. They will be using the set-up at Beckman HS next week.

Finally Franklin team 4 is testing some new materials- Ni Cr Y W. The spots were spreading quite a bit, and even adding glycerol didn’t solve the issue. They made two plates with these materials and fired them both to test with the HARPOON kit next time. Team 5 was having trouble seeing any oxygen produced when testing their plate with HARPOON, even at a higher voltage. They plan to add 10% glycerol to their spots next time to see if that will help.

Thanks for all the great updates everyone!



Week of 1/30-2/5

This week we’re back in the swing of things. Not everyone posted updates so please try to remember to record your progress every week on google drive. It’ll help us all stay connected and get better results by the end of the year.

First update is from Oakwood School. They debriefed on the CCI Solar Annual Meeting and decided that they will continue to test plates (though still working on the parameters for that research), so they started by making an iron nitrate plate at the last meeting. They will also focus on writing up a report on how to build and use their UV Ozone cleaner.  That way all the other teams will be able to follow the plans to build their own device and achieve more uniform spotting. If you’re interested in learning more about the UV ozone cleaner, reach out to Oakwood in the comments section and let them know any questions you have that they should address in their report.

Poly reviewed what they learned at the Annual Meeting as well. They had a discussion about the Juice from Juice project, and then retrieved new batteries to improve the UV light conditions for their HARPOON testing. They then did calculations to prepare a solution of a HARPOON standard (Ni/Fe/Co) used by all the other HARPOON sites, and cleaned plates for next time.

San Marino had a conversation on the Annual Meeting too and decided that they want to try using a UV ozone cleaner too if possible. They also saw materials that other groups are working with and are willing to potentially revisit bismuth (despite previous experiences with the material flaking) and cobalt. They particularly were impressed with a result shown of CoZn that was in the red with very high current.

At Mayfield, team PEAK contacted Mike McDonald (MIT) who spoke at the conference about his experience studying variation in SEAL results and received an excel file where they can input various current values for the same material and determine the standard deviation of the current. They also tested a CoZnFe plate and found another promising material (similar to their one CoZn material). They plan to epoxy a new wire to the opposite side of the plate to verify that the material being close to the bias potential didn’t affect the result.

Team RAM made two new plates: plate 11 contains Bismuth, Vanadium, and Tungsten (with the ratio of 8:1:1, 8:1:5, and 8:1:8), and plate 12 contains Bismuth, Vanadium, and Nickel, with the same ratio of plate 11. They used ammonium metavanadate for these plates that wasn’t very soluble so the ratios will likely be off. Hopefully next week the sodium metavanadate will be available to remake the materials and compare efficacy. Team SEA continued making plates with their colored and non-colored salts in more ratios (1:8, 4:7, 5:8). 

Week of 1/23-1/29

Everyone was prepping for the Annual Meeting so no updates from this week.

I hope everyone who was able to attend had a good time. All the posters were FABULOUS and I loved seeing the great work each of you has been doing. Very impressive. You guys did a wonderful job presenting and I heard many compliments on your work. Remember to take to heart the advice you got from your fellow scientists at the meeting and think of ways to start on some of their suggested experiments. Incorporating new experiments and directions to your research plan will only improve the final results for SEAL Con on May 13!

Now back to regular updates for next week please! And keep those conversations you had last weekend going in the comments…

Week of 1/16-1/22

Most teams have been busy working on their posters for the Annual Meeting. Remember to leave enough tie for printing and to bring your poster with you! Alverno is hoping to conduct a study where they test other teams’ plates with their SEAL kit at the Annual Meeting. If you want to be part of this Interlab study, bring your plates with you to the meeting!

Crescenta Valley tested the two plates from last week (NiCl2, ZnCl2, CoCl2), but had negative results- dark blue for both. They made several more plates, but we haven’t been able to get them annealed yet, so will finish testing them next week. One plate had .1 M BiVO4 with .1 M CoCl2 layered on top; another combined CoCl2, ZnCl2, NiCl2 in differing ratios (Co:Ni 1:1, Ni:Zn 1:1, Co:Zn 1:1), with four spots of Fe(NO3)3 as a standard; last plate had spots combining Ni:Fe:Co in a 1:2:2 ratio.

Mayfield ‘s team RAM made plate 9 (CuW) with the ratio of 10:6 and plate 10 (AlW) 10:6. Team SEA has noticed a trend with their colored & non-colored metal combinations: a higher ratio of non-colored to colored metal seems to produce more active materials. Their most active spot so far was iron tungsten in a 4:7 ratio. 

Franklin’s team “Versace” has posted the combinations of metals used on their first 3 plates. The metals they are testing are BiVO4, Co (II) acetate, Fe (III) nitrate, Ni (III) nitrate, and WO2Cl2. They will be using the HARPOON kit I believe, and after results are posted, I will point out specific ratios that had above average results.

Keep up the great work and see you soon!