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.


  1. San Marino Red Team: Why did you bake your plates at a higher temperature?

  2. Beckman Team: Why did you choose iron nitrate to look into?

  3. Beckmen team (group 3): why are you mixing two metal solutions in a fixed ratio, testing the coating method?

  4. Beckmen team: Did you find out which concentration of molarities would create better results of the mixing method rather than the coating method?

  5. Beckman Team: It’s a great idea that you are looking at materials within a certain bandgap to test! How did you decide upon the threshold of between 1.2eV and 2.8eV?

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