Texas Tech University
TTU HomeDepartment of Chemistry and Biochemistry Faculty Dr. Louisa J. Hope-Weeks

Dr. Louisa J. Hope-Weeks




Ph.D., Cambridge University, UK, 2000; Postdoctoral Study, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 2001-2002

Research Area:

Inorganic Chemistry





Chemistry 125-B





Research Group

Principal Research Interests

Research efforts in our group are centered on the synthesis of advanced low density porous materials, in particular aerogels, which are often monolithic materials that have exceptionally high surface areas. Our particular interest is in forming highly active metal oxide catalysis, as a direct result of increasing the active metal component on the surface of the support. Our work differs to that of others in that metal loading and thus activity is increased by using a modified epoxide gelation which allows intimate mixing of the metal and support. Additionally, we are focusing our efforts on producing active aerogel based catalysts that are self supporting networks of the metal oxide. This increases the surface area and the number of active catalytic sites; the metal oxides we are currently investigating include many of the first row transition and rare earth metals and their mixed metal oxides.

In addition we are also investigating potential applications for non-oxide aerogels which are formed from a series of inter-connected II-VI semiconductor nanocrystals that aggregate to form a low-density inorganic polymer-like material. This work clearly overlaps the previous two previous research focuses outlined above. Specifically we are currently expanding the methodology to improve luminescence efficiency via utilizing the nanoparticles developed within our group to form these materials. Currently we are focusing our efforts to elucidate the morphology at the nanocrystal-nanocrystal interface. By modification of the reaction conditions we are hoping to improve our understanding micro/nano-structure, property and functionality of these novel aerogel materials. Additionally, we have recently undertaken a series of initial studies to look at applications of these materials in sensing and catalysis.

Our final focus area is the development of new organometallic energetic materials, this work is predominantly driven by a need develop alternatives to metal based primary explosives such as lead azide and mercury fulminate. The materials developed are based on a material currently widely utilized by the DoE., 5-cyanotetrazolato-N2-pentamminecobalt (III) perchlorate (CP) which has a cobalt metal center. We have looked to expand this class of material by modifying either the tetrazole ring or changing the metal center, the materials synthesized are often highly colored, and have specific optical absorption bands. This therefore allows the potential for this new class of explosives to be specifically tailored for direct optical initiation.


Representative Publications