finished projects

Development of nanomaterials (metal-organic frameworks, doped carbon-dots) for the detection of soluble and insoluble Cr(VI) in an aqueous environment and in air particulates

This project is in collaboration with Dr. Mehdi Amouie Torkmahalleh's group (Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health, University of Illinois at Chicago) with Ph.D. student Enoch Adotey

There is an ongoing need to develop a sensor for the detection of certain pollutants that is cheap, easy to manufacture, and efficient. Chromium is the 21st most abundant element in the earth's crust. It occurs mainly in two oxidation states, Cr(III) and Cr(VI). Cr(III) is believed to be involved in various metabolic processes in the human body, while Cr(VI) is carcinogenic and causes various respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, asthma and pneumonia. Cr(VI) can be released into the environment from the cooling towers of various industries such as ferrochrome manufacturing, metallurgical industry, refractory materials manufacturing, electroplating and combustion processes, especially in transportation. Once it enters the environment, it can come into contact with particles in the air and also enter water bodies. Therefore, there is a need to measure the extent of Cr(VI) pollution in the environment. The use of nanomaterials as fluorescence sensors is gaining increasing attention compared to conventional analytical methods (e.g., absorption spectroscopy, ion chromatography, atomic absorption spectroscopy, and electrochemical method) due to their better sensitivity, fast response time, and the possibility of in situ analysis. Among the nanomaterials under consideration, metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) and doped carbon nanodots (CDs) are the most promising materials that can be used as fluorescent sensors and environmental catalysts. Both materials can be produced from low-cost raw materials, are easy to synthesize, abundant, relatively stable, and nontoxic.

E.K. Adotey, M.P. Balanay, D. Shah, P.K. Hopke, S. Sabanov, M. Amouie Torkmahalleh. Heterogeneous (gas-solid) chemistry of atmospheric Cr: A case study of Astana, Kazakhstan. Environ. Pollut. 344 (2024) 123210. DOI:10.1016/j.envpol.2023.123210.

E.K. Adotey, M. Amouie Torkmahalleh, L. Tastanova, A. Bekeshev, D. Shah, P.K. Hopke, W. Lee. M.P.Balanay. Ultrasensitive fluorescent carbon dot sensor for quantification of soluble and insoluble Cr(VI) in particulate matter. J. Hazard. Mater. 462 (2024) 132671. DOI:10.1016/j.jhazmat.2023.132671.

E.K. Adotey, M. Amouie Torkmahalleh, P. Hopke, M.P. Balanay. N,Zn-doped fluorescent sensor based on carbon dots for the subnanomolar detection of soluble Cr(VI) ions. Sensors 23 (2023) 1632. DOI:10.3390/s23031632.

E.K. Adotey, L. Burkutova, L. Tastanova, A. Bekeshev, M.P. Balanay, S. Sabanov, A.M. Rule, P.K. Hopke, M. Amouei Torkmahalleh. Quantification and the sources identification of total and insoluble hexavalent chromium in ambient PM: A case study of Aktobe, Kazakhstan. Chemosphere 307 (2022) 136057. DOI:10.1016/j.chemosphere.2022.136057.

E.K. Adotey, M. Amouei Torkmahalleh, M.P. Balanay. Zinc metal-organic framework with 3-pyridinecarboxaldehyde and trimesic acid as co-ligands for selective detection of Cr(VI) ions in aqueous solution. Methods Appl. Fluoresc. 8 (2020) 045007. DOI:10.1088/2050-6120/abb364.

Flexible photoelectrochromic devices powered by tandem organic solar cells (Faculty Development Competitive Research Grant Program 2020 - 2022)

This research aims to develop flexible tandem organic solar cells that could be used in building adaptive photovoltaics (PV). Organic solar cells (OSC) are composed of either polymers or dyes that are synthesized in bulk from simple ingredients that can form the light-absorbing layer in the PV cell. In January of 2020, a group of scientists from China published an article in Science Bulletin (DOI:10.1016/j.scib.2020.01.001) for a single-junctional organic solar cell based on a donor-acceptor copolymer (D18) as its donor material and a low-bandgap acceptor (Y6) based on fused-ring benzothiadiazole core unit which attained a photon-to-current conversion efficiency of 18.22 %. The highest efficiency for solution-process tandem solar cells is at 17.3% which utilizes PBDB-T:F-M and PTBY-Th:O6T-F polymers. With the advent of new D-A polymer types, this efficiency can be improved much further. The tandem approach is an effective way to address the issues plaguing OSC devices such as its low charge mobility of organic materials that limits the thickness of the active layer which affects its light absorption process. This also allows for widening the absorption range to more than 900 nm by properly matching the top- and bottom-active layers. This type of solar cell is a very good fit for building-integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) due to its flexibility, tunable transparency, and does not contain any heavy metals. It can also be easily fabricated using solution-based, low-temperature, roll-to-roll manufacturing method, using conventional printing techniques on flexible substrates which are the basic requirements for large-scale production.

Electrochromic materials are able to vary their coloration and transparency to solar radiation, in a reversible manner, when they are subjected to a small electric field (1–5 V). The main materials with electrochromic properties are metal oxides of transition, in particular WO3, MoO3, IrO2, NiO, and V2O5. The advantage of transition metal oxides is that it is very stable but it has a very limited range of available colors and brightness. On the other hand, electrochromic materials based on conjugated conducting polymers, wherein it can be easily tuned to a wide array of color combinations but suffers from stability even at ambient conditions. A material that can be both stable and be able to have a wide array of colors is the use of metal-organic frameworks (MOF). The first reported MOF as an electrochromic material was in 2013 using pyrazolate-based MOF. Since then, there are a number of reported MOF-based EC materials. This project searches for an effective ligand to the metal which includes bimetallic composition and host-guest assemblies. 

B. Baptayev, Y. Tashenov, S. Adilov, M.P. Balanay. Facile fabrication of ZnCo2S4@MWCNT as Pt-free counter electrode for high performance dye-sensitized solar cells. Surf. Interfaces 37 (2023) 102699. DOI:10.1016/j.surfin.2023.102699.

B. Baptayev, Y. Tashenov, A. Aliakbarova, S. Adilov, M.P. Balanay. Ternary NiCuS electrocatalyst for iodide/triiodide reduction in dye-sensitized solar cells. Mater. Today: Proc. 71 (2022) 94. DOI:10.1016/j.matpr.2022.09.614.

B. Baptayev, S.-M. Kim, B. Bolatbek, S.H. Lee, M.P. Balanay. Effect of π-spacer length in novel xanthene-linked L-(D−π–A)2-type dianchoring dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells. ACS Appl. Energy Mater. 5 (2022) 6764. DOI:10.1021/acsaem.2c00384.

B. Baptayev, Y. Tashenov, M.P. Balanay. Conjugated Polymers as Organic Electrodes for Photovoltaics. In R.K Gupta, Ed. Organic Electrodes: Fundamental to Advanced Emerging Applications, Engineering Materials. Springer, Cham. (2022) pp. 137-153. DOI:10.1007/978-3-030-98021-4_8

B. Baptayev, S.-M. Kim, B. Bolatbek, S.H. Lee, M.P. Balanay. The effect of coupling and di-anchoring group in the performance of triphenylamine-based dyes for dye-sensitized solar cells. Dyes Pigm. 198 (2022) 110020. DOI:10.1016/j.dyepig.2021.110020.

B. Baptayev, D. Mustazheb, Z. Abilova, M.P. Balanay. Nanostructured flower-shaped CuCo2S4 as a Pt-free counter-electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem. Commun. 56 (2020) 12190. DOI:10.1039/D0CC04211K.

Natural carbon dots as counter electrodes for photovoltaic applications (Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan Grant Project 2018 - 2020)

The aim of the project was the development of natural carbon dot-based counter electrodes for third-generation organic solar cells: dye-sensitized and perovskite. Current use of the counter electrodes made of noble metals (Au, Ag, Pt) in organic solar cells affects the final cost of produced energy and restricts the commercialization of the solar cells. Carbon dots (CDs) are a new type of nanocarbon materials and have excellent properties: they are cheap, abundant, and environmentally friendly. Their physico-chemical properties can be tuned by synthetic modifications. Additionally, photoexcited carbon dots have the ability to undergo charge-transfer.

B. Baptayev, D. Mustazheb, Z. Abilova, M.P. Balanay. Nanostructured flower-shaped CuCo2S4 as a Pt-free counter-electrode for dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem. Commun. 56 (2020) 12190. DOI:10.1039/D0CC04211K.

B. Baptayev, S. Adilov, M.P. Balanay. Surface modification of TiO2  photoanodes with In3+ using a simple soaking technique for enhancing the efficiency of dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Photochem. Photobiol. A 394 (2020) 112468. DOI:10.1016/j.jphotochem.2020.112468.

B. Baptayev, D. Mustazheb, M.P. Balanay. Binary transition metal sulfides as an economical Pt-free counter electrodes for dye-sensitized solar cells. Mater. Today: Proc. 25 (2020) 24. DOI:10.1016/j.matpr.2019.10.170.

B. Baptayev, A. Aukenova, D. Mustazheb, M. Kazaliyev, M.P. Balanay. Pt-free counter electrode based on orange fiber-derived carbon embedded cobalt sulfide nanoflakes for dye-sensitized solar cells. J. Photochem. Photobiol. A 383 (2019) 111977. DOI:10.1016/j.jphotochem.2019.111977.

B. Baptayev, S.H. Lee, D.H. Kim, M.P. Balanay. Controlling aggregation using self-assembled axially coordinated pyridine-based ligands on porphyrin analogues for dye-sensitized solar cells. Chem. Phys. Lett. 730 (2019) 407. DOI:10.1016/j.cplett.2019.06.008.

B. Baptayev, A. Rysbekova, D. Kalpakov, A. Aukenova, D. Mustazheb, Z. Salkenova, M. Kazaliyev, M.P. Balanay. Control of porphyrin dye aggregation using bis(4-pyridyl)alkanes in dye sensitized solar cells. Eurasian Chem.-Technol. J. 21 (2019) 63. DOI:10.18321/ectj792.

Synthesis of natural-derived carbon dots for biomedical applications

This project was in collaboration with Prof. Haiyan Fan (Chemistry Department, Nazarbayev University) and Prof. Yingqiu Xie (Biology Department, Nazarbayev University).

The major aim of the project is to synthesize doped carbon dots from natural sources such as tea and date pits. Carbon dots have been increasingly utilized as a substitute for the more expensive semiconductor-based quantum dots nanomaterials over the past number of years which can be applied to various areas such as bioimaging, optoelectronics, and catalysis. The as-prepared CDs exhibits strong fluorescence property and has the ability to inhibit the growth of cancer cells such as human lung cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer cells.

A.A. Nurkesh, M.P. Balanay, T. Yeleusizov, D. Tursynkhan, Q. Yang, X. Wan, L. Manarbek, A. Maipas, B. Matkarimov, Y. Zhang, H. Fan, L.-X. Miao, S.P. Li, Z. Chen, Y. Xie. Natural product-derived carbon nanodots overcome drug resistance through regulation of Hippo pathway effectors. Cancer Res. 78 (2018) 5498.

Y. Xie, Q. Sun, A. Nurkesh, J. Lu, S. Kauanova, J. Feng, D. Tursynkhan, Q. Yang, A. Kassymbek, M. Karibayev, K. Duisenova, H. Fan, X. Wang, L. Manarbek, A. Maipas, Z. Chen, M.P. Balanay. Dysregulation of YAP by ARF stimulated with tea-derived carbon nanodots. Sci. Rep. 7 (2017) 16577. DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-16441-y.

Y. Xie, O. Filchakova, Q. Yang, Y. Yesbolatov, D. Tursynkhan, A. Kassymbek, M. Bouhrara, K. Wang, M.P. Balanay, H. Fan. Inhibition of cancer cell proliferation by carbon-dots derived from date pits at low-dose. ChemistrySelect 2 (2017) 4079. DOI:10.1002/slct.201700575.

Effect of benzodiazole derivatives containing sulfur, oxygen, and selenium on the efficiency of porphyrin-based dye-sensitized solar cells (Social Policy Grant 2016)

Dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs) are still considered to be one of the best alternatives in solar cell technology owing to the use of “non-toxic” components in its design as compared to the leading Perovskites solar cells which uses lead in their basic structure. Wang and colleagues introduced the use of thiophene, furan, and selenophene as part of the π-conjugated bridge and found that those with furan and selenophene have better photovoltaic performances as compared to thiophene which is very prone to recombination effects, especially when iodide/triiodide is used as the redox electrolyte. This approach was incorporated in the porphyrin analogues with the thiophene moiety that produced a better efficiency of 5.8 % compared to furan with 4.7 %. Co-sensitizing it with a triphenylamine-based dyes improves the efficiencies to 6.7 %, which was also observed in YD2-o-C8 dyes. The use of a larger macrocycle in between the donor and acceptor species, such as the benzothiadiazoles and its derivatives could function as a photon sink which will ensure and enhance the possibility of charge separation and migration in the dye. In this research, we did molecular design through theoretical calculations, synthesis of porphyrin-based dyes which was patterned after SM315 by replacing the benzothiadiazole component with benzooxadiazole and benzoselenadiazole, analysis of the photophysical properties of the dyes, fabrication of the DSSC, and measurement of the photovoltaic performances of the dyes.