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Undergraduate research experiences are an instrumental component of student development, increasing conceptual understanding, promoting inquiry-based learning, and guiding potential career aspirations. Moving one step further, as research continues to become more interdisciplinary, there exists potential to accelerate student growth by granting additional perspectives through collaborative research. This study demonstrates the utilization of a model collaborative research project, specifically investigating the development of sorbent technologies for efficient CO2 capture, which is an important research area for improving environmental sustainability. A model CO2 sorbent system of heteroatom-doped porous carbon is utilized to enable students to gain knowledge of adsorption processes, through combined experimental and computational investigations and learnings. A particular emphasis is placed on creating interdisciplinary learning experiences, exemplified by using density functional theory (DFT) to understand molecular interactions between doped carbon surfaces and CO2 molecules as well as explain underlying physical mechanisms that govern experimental results. The experimental observations about CO2 sorption performance of doped ordered mesoporous carbons (OMCs) can be correlated with simulation results, which can explain how the presence of heteroatom functional groups impact the ability of porous carbon to selectively adsorb CO2 molecules. Through an inquiry-focused approach, students were observed to couple interdisciplinary results to construct holistic explanations, while developing skills in independent research and scientific communications. This collaborative research project allows students to obtain a deeper understanding of sustainability challenges, cultivate confidence in independent research, prepare for future career paths, and most importantly, be exposed to strategies employing interdisciplinary research approaches to address scientific challenges.


Copyright © 2024 The Authors. Published by American Chemical Society and Division of Chemical Education, Inc. This publication is licensed under CC-BY 4.0.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Publication Title

Journal of Chemical Education





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