Rice University professor Isabell Thomann has received a $400,000 Career Award from the National Science Foundation to study photocatalytic reactions that could reduce carbon dioxide emitted by power plants. Her five-year research project involves developing tunable femtosecond time-resolved Raman spectroscopy techniques to probe little-understood aspects of photochemical reactions. “It’s rare that a [chemical] reaction goes directly from A to B,” Thomann said. “Often there are a number of short-lived, intermediate chemicals that are produced in between. We would like to better understand what these short-lived intermediates are so we can better control the output of the chemical reactions.” The project also involves exploring plasmonic and dielectric photoelectrode nanostructures that could enhance reactions that break down CO2 or synthesize other compounds. For more information, visit www.nsf.gov or www.rice.edu.