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Devens Gust has research and teaching interests in aspects of organic chemistry including artificial photosynthetic solar energy conversion, organic photovoltaics, molecular computing, and general photochemistry. He has served as chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, director of the Photosynthesis Research Center, and director of the Department of Energy supported Center for Bioinspired Solar Fuel Production. He has held visiting professorships at the Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Paris, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium, University of Sydney, Australia, and Université Louis Pasteur, Strasbourg, France.
Professor Gust has published about 350 research articles in scientific journals, and is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Physics (London) and a member of the National Academy of Inventors. He has received a variety of awards for research achievement, including the Award in Photochemistry from the Inter-American Photochemical Society, the Hans Fischer Lifetime Achievement Award in Porphyrin Chemistry and the AzTE Technology Ventures Innovators of the Year Award. Currently at ASU, he is Regent’s Professor Emeritus and Distinguished Sustainability Scientist.
Research and Teaching Interests
In the Gust group, they apply the techniques of synthetic and physical organic chemistry, photochemistry, laser spectroscopy and electrochemistry to mimicry of important aspects of photosynthetic energy conversion. Eventual applications of this work are in the areas of solar energy conversion, molecular (opto)electronics, renewable hydrogen production, and materials chemistry. Most of the research is highly interdisciplinary, and some of their projects involve collaborations with other faculty in Chemistry and Biochemistry, Bioengineering, Physics, Electrical Engineering, and Materials Engineering.
In their laboratories they synthesize organic molecules that absorb sunlight and use the resulting energy to carry out basic processes such as energy transfer, photoinduced electron transfer, and photoisomerization. Their design criteria are based on the principles of natural photosynthesis. The behavior of these molecules is studied using ultrafast laser spectroscopy, NMR, scanning probe microscopy, and other methods. Some of these photoactive compounds are incorporated into artificial biological "cells," (liposomes) where they are used, along with enzymes and other chemicals, to convert light energy into biologically useful energy such as proton motive force and ATP. Other molecules are the light-absorbing components of experimental photoelectrochemical biofuel cells that generate either electricity or hydrogen gas. Still others have optoelectronic applications. They are preparing molecular photovoltaics, switches and logic gates that will help point the way to new methods of data processing, storage and transmission. The electronic properties of individual molecules are being studied on conducting surfaces using scanning probe techniques, and on insulating surfaces in field-effect transistors. They are also investigating photoactive molecules for their ability to change the properties of surfaces, leading to new methods for controlling water movement in microfluidic devices. The accompanying list of selected publications can be consulted for more details. Graduate students interested in the research may also be interested in the IGERT graduate education program in Biomolecular Nanotechnology.