Dr. John Rowley

Dr. John RowleyDr. John G. Rowley
Associate Professor  of Chemistry
Email: jrowley@carroll.edu
Phone: 406-447-4467


  • Ph.D. Johns Hopkins University: Baltimore, Maryland
  • B.S. University of Alaska Fairbanks: Fairbanks, Alaska
  • A.S. Flathead Valley Community College: Kalispell, Montana

Areas of Interest: Physical Chemistry, Photoelectrolysis, Electron Transfer, Renewable Energy

Courses Taught: Physical Chemistry, General Chemistry, Essentials of Chemistry, Integrated Lab


Dr. John RowleyProfessor Rowley grew up in Montana and attended Flathead Valley Community College (FVCC) in Kalispell, Montana before transferring to the University of Alaska (UAF) Fairbanks to complete his Bachelors degree.  Professor Rowley attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in Baltimore, Maryland where he studied the mechanisms of interfacial and interparticle electron-transfer within high-surface-area metal-oxide thin films under the guidance of Professor Gerald J. Meyer.  After graduating from JHU, Professor Rowley worked with Professor Bruce A. Parkinson as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Wyoming on the SHArK project and the simultaneous acquisition of attenuated total reflectance (ATR) and UV-Vis spectra on dye sensitized single crystal electrodes.

Research Interests

PhotoelectrolysisIn our research group we interrogate, develop, and advance the understanding of the fundamental chemical mechanisms behind the harvesting of renewable solar energy.  Currently we are focused on the discovery and optimization of materials with previously unknown photoelectrolysis properties.  Specifically we are searching for new materials that absorb sunlight and use that energy to split water into renewable hydrogen fuel.  We are trying to discover inexpensive, earth-abundant, and stable metal oxide semiconductors that efficiently perform photoelectrolysis on water using sunlight.

Figure 1. A generic single p-type semiconductor photoelectrolysis cell configuration capable of splitting water (H2O) into hydrogen (H2) and oxygen (O2) using sun light.

SHArK kitWe are part of the Solar Hydrogen Research Activity Kit (SHArK) project that uses a LEGO© based experimental apparatus to search for photoelectrolysis metal oxide catalysts (http://www.thesharkproject.org/).

Figure 2.  The SHArK laser-rastering kit developed at the University of Wyoming in 2012.

The SHArK laser-rastering kit is an inexpensive experimental apparatus that is simple to operate.  In our lab undergraduate researchers prepare multi-element metal oxide thin films on fluorine-doped thin oxide (FTO) coated glass substrates. The metal oxide thin films are prepared by spraying, drop pipetting, or printing metal nitrate salt precursors onto the FTO substrate and then pyrolyzing the sample to from the metal oxide. The metal oxide thin films are immersed in aqueous electrolyte and the laser-rastering SHArK kit is used to interrogate the multi-element metal oxide thin film for regions of visible light initiated photoelectrolysis activity.

FeCrAl triangleFigure 3a. Photograph of a three element-gradient thin film metal oxide sample printed on a fluorine doped tin oxide (FTO) substrate.  The two strips at the bottom right are the p- and n-type semiconductor internal standards of CuO and α-Fe2O3 respectively.

Figure 3b. The false color photocurrent map of the ternary Fe, Cr, Al oxide thin film shown in (a). The sample was immersed in 0.1 M NaOH aqueous electrolyte and scanned with a 532 nm laser under short circuit conditions in a two electrode configuration. 

Currently our lab is developing new inexpensive combinatorial metal oxide film synthesis techniques. Additionally, we are investigating new metal oxide combinations to discover previously unknown photoelectrolysis properties.

Recommended Readings

News from the Solar Hydrogen Activity Research Kit project. Rowley, J. G.; SPIE Newsroom: Solar & Alternative Energy, (2015), DOI: 10.1117/2.1201510.006137

Combinatorial Discovery Through a Distributed Outreach Program: Investigation of the Photoelectrolysis Activity of p-Type Fe, Cr, Al Oxides. Rowley, J.G.; Do, T. D.; Cleary, D.A.; Parkinson, B.A.; ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, (2014), DOI: 10.1021/am406045j (ACS Editors’ Choice - online open access)

Involving Students in a Collaborative Project to Help Discover Inexpensive, Stable Materials for Solar Photoelectrolysis.  Paige N. Anunson, Gates R. Winkler, Jay R. Winkler, Bruce A. Parkinson, and Jennifer D. Schuttlefield Christu. Journal of Chemical Education, 2013, 90, 1333-1340

Combinatorial approaches for the identification and optimization of oxide semiconductors for efficient solar photoelectrolysis. Michael Woodhouse, Bruce A. Parkinson, Chemical Society Reviews, 2009, 38, 197-210

Combined Catalysis and Optical Screening for High Throughput Discovery of Solar Fuels Catalysts. J. M. Gregoire, C. Xiang, S. Mitrovic, X. Liu, M. Marcin, E. W. Cornell, J. Fan, and J. Jina, Journal of The Electrochemical Society, 160 (4) F337-F342 (2013) F337

Recent developments in solar water-splitting photocatalysis. MRS Bull., F.E. Osterloh, B.A. Parkinson, 2011, 36, 17-22.

Combinatorial discovery and optimization of a complex oxide with water photoelectrolysis activity. M. Woodhouse, B.A. Parkinson, Chem. Mater., 2008, 20, 2495-2502

Solar Water Splitting Cells. M. G. Walter, E. L. Warren, J. R. McKone, S. W. Boettcher, Q. X. Mi, E. A. Santori and N. S. Lewis, Chemical Reviews, 2010, 110, 6446-6473

Combinatorial synthesis and high-throughput photopotential and photocurrent screening of mixed-metal oxides for photoelectrochemical water splitting. Jordan E. Katz, Todd R. Gingrich, Elizabeth A. Santori and Nathan S. Lewis, Energy & Environmental Science, 2009, 2, 103-112