P354: SHArK: The Solar Hydrogen Activity research Kit
Of the available renewable sources of power, solar energy is the most abundant and will undoubtedly significantly contribute to our civilization’s future energy demands. The Solar Hydrogen Activity research Kit, or SHArK project, was conceived and developed in the Parkinson Lab in 2006. Inspired by the combinatorial inject printing conducted in our research laboratory, SHArK enables high-school and undergraduates to perform original research investigating new combinations of metal semiconductor oxides for photocatalysis. SHArK introduces the topics of solar to fuel, semiconductors, electrochemistry, electronic structure and photochemistry, whilst simultaneously exposing students to the excitement and problem solving skills associated with scientific research. Student researchers also gain communication and professional skills. Once students have collected photocurrent data, they must examine the data for a ‘hit’ (photocurrent hotspot) relative to iron and copper oxide photocurrent ‘standards’. Subsequently, student data is uploaded to the SHArK database. To date, over 65 SHArK sites have been established and one material discovered by a student has led to a peer reviewer publication on a photoelectrochemically active p-type Fe-Cr-Al alloy. Recently, SHArK has been upgraded to SHArK II. The replacement of the original back lash prone gears by the incorporation of Lego compatible linear actuators has increased the accuracy of the scanner and substantially reduced the time for a student to scan their sample from 2 hours to just 35 minutes. In addition, the data collection methods and user interface have been significantly enhanced to provide an instantaneous and more informative graphical representation of the photocurrent response.