Jillian Dempsey

Jillian Dempsey

Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor, Director of Undergraduate Studies

   Kenan Laboratories 440
  Group Website
  Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

Inorganic Spectroscopy and Solar Energy Conversion

Research Synopsis

Research in the Dempsey group applies the tools of physical inorganic chemistry to address challenges associated with developing efficient solar energy conversion processes. In particular, we focus on understanding the proton-coupled electron transfer reactions that underpin fuel production and elucidating electron transfer processes across materials interfaces.

Our research program bridges molecular and materials chemistry and relies heavily on methods of physical inorganic chemistry, including electrochemistry and time-resolved optical spectroscopy.

Professional Background

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, BS, 2005; California Institute of Technology, PhD, 2011; NSF American Competitiveness in Chemistry Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Washington, Seattle, 2011-2012; UNC Junior Faculty Development Award, 2015, NSF CAREER Award, 2015; Packard Fellowship for Science and Engineering, 2015; Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Award, 2016; Sloan Research Fellowship, 2016

Research Group

News & Publications

Here, using first-principles calculations, we find that adsorption of water to a defective NiO(111) surface can result in intraband gap surface electronic states that are associated with hydroxyl and oxygen moieties adjacent to Ni vacancies.


A model is proposed wherein ET in annealed SnO2|TiO2 is rate-limited by electron transport in the shell, while ET in unannealed SnO2|TiO2 is rate-limited by electron escape from the core. The model is consistent with a comparative study of ZrO2|TiO2 materials for which insulating ZrO2 cores are energetically inaccessible to electrons. These mechanistic insights provide guidance on how to manipulate core|shell nanostructures for applications in solar water splitting.