“Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.”

– Robert F. Kennedy, 1964


The graph above tracks the United States Energy Consumption over the past 60 years in Quadrillion (1015) BTUs. It also divides the total energy up by source and tracks the percentage of the energy that is renewable. Just a few of the take home messages from the graph are: 1). we use a lot of energy every year – the energy in a single Quad is greater than the energy in 10,000 WW2 style nuclear bombs!!!  2). our energy consumption increases every year and 3). our production of energy from renewable sources has failed to keep pace with our increase in consumption (i.e. on a percentage basis we use less renewable energy today than we used in 1950).

For a lot of people, the last of these points is the most surprising and disturbing. Why so little progress on renewable energy? Well, the simple answer is cost. On a per energy unit basis, renewables cost more than fossil fuels. The good news is that what determines that cost is largely our ability to innovate and create new technologies that harness renewable energy in a more efficient, cost effective manner.


The focus of the Henry Lab is the surface chemistry of the semiconductor Cadmium Selenide (CdSe). Very small semiconducting crystals only nanometers (10-9 nm) in diameter are a possible next generation material for photovoltaic devices (i.e. devices that convert sunlight into electricity). The surface chemistry of these crystals plays a huge role in determining the efficiency of these devices by determining the mobility of photogenerated electrons within the device.

In the Henry lab we are developing surface infrared spectroscopy techniques to probe the nature of ligand binding at the nanocrystal surface. Infrared spectroscopy is well suited to studying semiconductor surface chemistry because, while infrared light excites well characterized vibrational transitions in molecules, semiconductors are largely transparent in the infrared. The result is detailed information about the effect of binding on specific chemical bonds within the molecule. As shown in the graph below the changes in the molecule’s infrared spectrum can be quite dramatic.


Principal Investigator
Prof. Joshua A. Henry (official Bates page)
telephone: (207)786-6454
email: jhenry@bates.edu
5 Andrews Rd.
Lewiston, ME 04240



Most of the work in our lab is done by the phenomenal undergraduates in the chemistry department at Bates College either working during the summer or during the school year.





Olalekan Afuye,3-2 Engineering ’14

Justin Johal ’14, Biochemistry


Hunter Archibald, Biochemistry ’12

Ethan Emerson, Chemistry and Physics ’12

Justin Giroux, Biochemistry ’11

UConn Dentistry Program

Jacob Hershey, Chemistry ’12

Emma (Leigh) Krueger, Chemistry ’10

UT Austin, Department of Chemistry

Vanden Bout Group

Claire Parker ’11

UC Santa Cruz, Ocean Sciences

Bruland Group