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College of Arts & Sciences

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Catherine   McCusker 

Assistant Professor


Global climate change and renewable energy are issues that are at the forefront of national and international debate. Finding clean, carbon-neutral sources of energy is one of the greatest technological challenges we face in the scientific community today. In the search for abundant, clean, and renewable energy, one obvious place to look is the sun. Photosensitizers are molecules that absorb sunlight and use that energy to drive a (useful) chemical reaction. Solar fuels photochemistry utilizes photosensitizers to oxidize or reduce a catalyst, which can then go on to catalyze fuel forming reactions, allowing solar energy to be stored as chemical energy. The drawback of this chemistry is that a majority of photosensitizers incorporate rare second and third row metals, whose low abundance limits their use in large-scale applications. Our goal is therefore to develop photosensitizers using more abundant first row transition metals such as chromium and zinc and incorporate those photosensitizers into solar fuel catalysis.

For more information on Dr. McCusker's research please click here.


  • “Cuprous Phenanthroline MLCT Chromophore Featuring Synthetically Tailored Photophysics” Garakyaraghi, S.; Crapps, P. D.; McCusker, C. E.; Castellano, F. N. Inorg Chem. 2016, 55, 10628-10636.
  • “Efficient Visible to Near-UV Photochemical Upconversion Sensitized by a Long Lifetime Cu(I) MLCT Complex” McCusker, C. E. and Castellano, F. N. Inorg. Chem. 2015, 54, 6035-6042.
  • “Transient Absorption Dynamics of Sterically Congested Cu(I) MLCT Excited States” Garakyaraghi, S.; Danilov, E. O.; McCusker, C. E.; Castellano, F. N. J. Phys. Chem. A 2015, 119, 3181-3193.
  • “Robust Cuprous Phenanthroline Sensitizer for Solar Hydrogen Photocatalysis” Khnayzer, K. S.; McCusker, C. E.; Olaiya, B. S.; Castellano, F. N. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2013, 135, 14068-14070.
  • “Design of a Long-Lifetime, Earth-Abundant, Aqueous Compatible Cu(I) Photosensitizer Using Cooperative Sterics” McCusker, C. E. and Castellano, F. N. Inorg. Chem. 2013, 52, 8114-8120. 
  • “Orange-to-Blue and Red-to-Green Photon Upconversion with a Broadband Absorbing Copper(I) MLCT Sensitizer” McCusker, C. E. and Castellano, F. N. Chem. Commun. 2013, 49, 3537-3539.


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