Ambrose alumnus Thomas Carey (Class of 2008) has been a busy man since he and his fiancé Sonia graduated from the University of Wisconsin in May 2012, and married the following week. After an adventuresome honeymoon of backpacking in the Rocky Mountains, the newlyweds moved to Colorado, where Thomas began graduate school in organic chemistry at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Sonia started work on a nursing degree.
Now in the fifth year of his doctoral studies, Thomas teaches chemistry and works in a university lab researching molecular systems that could someday aid in solar energy conversion. He and his team members recently published an article in The Journal of Organic Chemistry summarizing the work of the last few years. The title, “Synthesis of Geometrically Well-Defined Covalent Acene Dimers for Mechanistic Exploration of Singlet Fission,” may not communicate much to the uninitiated, but it contributes toward understanding a very particular way that light and molecules can interact, known as “singlet fission.”
“In the paper,” said Thomas, “we describe the synthesis of two tetracene-based products and outline a general strategy where structural variation can be used to tune the electronic properties of these dimers. These molecules are studied by others in our group as part of our project to systematically analyze the mechanistic details of a photophysical process called ‘singlet fission’ (wherein a single photon absorption gives rise to two excited states), which has applications in developing more efficient solar energy technologies.” In simpler terms, Thomas said, “we are trying to understand how a certain photophysical process works. Our group doesn’t work on the actual design of solar cell devices, but what we do could contribute to increasing their efficiency down the road.”
After full days in the research laboratory and teaching, Thomas comes home to a busy home
life. Sonia has finished her nursing degree, and the couple now has three sons: Benedict (3), David (1), and newborn Nicholas, who made his appearance within a week of the publication of Thomas’ most recent article. Being “first author” is a major step toward earning his PhD, which Thomas hopes to complete in another semester or two.
We admire the productivity and holy ambition of this young couple, whose hard work in academia has not precluded them from living out God’s plan for sacramental marriage and the family so generously. Thank you for your Christian witness of sacrificial love and excellence in virtue!
For the technically literate or the brave, you may like to read Thomas’ article here (please know, access to the full text requires a paid login).