Week of 11/21-11/27

With the holiday week, only a few teams had meetings this week. Poly is waiting for the HARPOON mesh to be tested by Franklin to confirm that it works, so in the meantime they spotted a couple of bismuth-iron plates. They plan on testing their plates with both SEAL and HARPOON.

Only Franklin’s Las Chemists team has been updating so far. Their group got to practice setting up the HARPOON kit, but unfortunately they spotted their materials on the wrong side of the FTO plate. They remade their plate and placed in the kiln to try next time.

San Marino’s Red Team worked on two things: reviewed an article regarding Photosystem II, and prepared another drop-cast plate since the first plate flaked. Samuel, a member of Red Team, found an article that removed the manganese atoms in the chlorophyll molecules of photosystem II, increasing the rate of hydrogen evolution. In water splitting, both the oxygen and the hydrogens are evolved, with both competing for space in the chlorophyll molecule. By removing the manganese, there was more space available for the hydrogen evolving process. With this new information, they plan to find out how to make the hydrogen evolving more efficient or increase the amount of hydrogen evolving occurring in a molecule of chlorophyll. With the plates, they decided to change the number of microliters deposited on the plate, the molarity of the samples, and the arrangement of the samples. In this new design, we placed columns of copper, copper with nickel, nickel, nickel with manganese, manganese, and manganese with copper. Each sample is from column to column, skipping one space after a sample to prevent them from blending together. 23 and 25 are 1.00 M because they want to see whether or not the molarity or the amount of the sample causes flaking. The corner box indicates which dots are left empty for the epoxy.

Crescenta Valley has been growing their membership base and are now up to twenty-some members, split into three teams each pursuing separate research goals. So far, they have been teaching new members, so they have made few new plates, but initial test results on 0.05 M iron(III) nitrate are deep blue (teams with successful iron results- like PCC- offer some advice to CVHS). They are planning on doing further testing with cobalt chloride and bismuth vanadate once the new members are settled. They are also planning on implementing the 3-D printed holder for the SEAL kit developed by Fairmont State once they get it printed.

Lastly, the Alverno team is just getting ready to start new experiments. They have spent the last few weeks re-testing plates used by the summer team and comparing the results. The results seem to match, so they are ready to move forward using their kit to test new materials. From running the plates, they also conclude that using bismuth and possibly some other metal give good photoactivity. They plan to focus on the use of metal combinations of bismuth with another semiconductor metal salt. Alverno also has a proposition to the rest of the teams- respond in the comments if you are interested:

From our past years with our kit, we usually got low results with our kit for plates, even with the Iron standards. We have also talked with other teams before, and some mentioned they had had similar problems. This year, to follow up on the calibration of our kit, we are hoping to introduce another aspect to SEAL. We noticed that depending on the labs, kilning, materials, or maybe the kit, results could vary for different metals; Is any team interested in participating in a kind of collaborative study between the teams? We would be willing to run any plates that any teams have made with their various combinations of metals, and send our results (and return the plates) to see if they match up–just like what we did with the Summer SEAL plates. This could help to test any possible lab factors and also whether or not our kits are accurate. After we have begun creating our plates for our SEAL project, we would also like to send ours to other team’s labs to see if their kit also got similar results. If any teams would like to participate in such a study, please let us know.”



  1. Franklin–does the mesh in your HARPOON kit have the fluorescent paint on it? Does anyone have extra fluorescent paint? We think this is the reason our HARPOON experiments aren’t working.

  2. Cresenta Valley: We’re curious to see your kit holder so, is it possible if we can see a picture of a prototype of the kit holder you will be printing? Thanks!

  3. How did you synthesize bismuth vanadate using the HARPOON method? There are electrodeposition methods that are much more complicated, so alternatives are helpful!


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