Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

John Z. Larese

Committee Members

Ziling Xue, Jamie L. Adcock, Joseph E. Spruiell


As the Earth's population increases and natural resources decrease in supply, the development of new methods for energy storage and the efficient production of industrial chemicals becomes ever more important to humanity. The development of new nanomaterials may offer technological advances in the fields of sustainable energy production and storage, chemical production, medicine, and many others. The emerging field of nanoscience blends chemistry, physics, and engineering to create new materials that take advantage of properties found only on the nanoscale.

In this work, mesoporous silica spheres are used as a support for nanoparticles of palladium. This nanomaterial is shown to be an effective heterogeneous catalyst for the production of hydrogen peroxide from hydrogen and oxygen gases. This direct formation offers a more efficient route to the production of this important industrial feedstock without the use of anthraquinones, a class of organic chemicals used in current industrial production.

Graphene has received much attention in the last decade as a nanomaterial with many potential applications. Intense study of this one-atom-thick carbonaceous material has resulted in the publication of more than 7,000 journal articles in the year 2011 alone. Our work has focused on the chemical modification of graphene oxide to produce lithium-functionalized nanomaterials. As a two-dimensional scaffold, this material may have applications in hydrogen fuel cells and other advanced materials.

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