UH Chemist Earns CAREER Award for Work in Luminescence

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HOUSTON, Feb. 28, 2019 — University of Houston assistant professor Thomas Teets has received a five-year, $589,000 National Science Foundation CAREER Award to explore synthetic strategies for producing photoactive organometallic compounds.

Teets, an experimental chemist, will take a three-pronged approach in his research and develop compounds that efficiently emit blue light and provide long-lived lighting for organic LED color displays; develop compounds that emit in the near-infrared spectrum and efficiently produce low-energy light; and develop photocatalysts for organic synthesis capable of light-induced electron transfer.

University of Houston Assistant Professor Thomas Teets.
Chemist Thomas Teets has received a National Science Foundation CAREER Award to study the interaction of light with organometallic compounds. Courtesy of University of Houston.

“We’re developing tools that will allow synthetic chemists to use light to promote synthetically useful reactions,” he said. “We’re designing new catalysts, compounds that absorb light and promote chemical transformations.” 

Teets explained that organic LED displays used in signage, television screens, and other electronics utilize a combination of red, green, and blue pixels to generate lifelike images. However, light-emittng materials that function at the blue-light end of the spectrum suffer from both poor stability and poor efficiency.

“When you promote these compounds to a higher-energy state, stability is always a concern, especially for blue emitters,” he said.

The grant will also fund educational projects aimed at children from kindergarten through high school. A lab module will introduce them to ways in which light interacts with chemical compounds. In addition, a public lecture series designed to expose art enthusiasts to the chemical principle behind the creation of colors will be funded by the grant as well.

NSF CAREER awards are granted to highly promising junior faculty members who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

Published: February 2019
Research & TechnologyUniversity of HoustoneducationAmericasawardspeopleThomas TeetsNational Science FoundationNSFCareer AwardLEDsLight SourcesDisplaysphotocatalyst

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