This dissertation reports on the experimental exploration of the defect sites in hexagonal-boron nitride to determine catalytic activity, and in copper(I) iodide clusters to explore its potential use as a novel sensor for narcotic substances.
The author of this dissertation describes a research study to investigate two nitrogen-containing materials for their potential applicability to forensic science, specifically, optoelectronics and chemical sensing. The author first describes the investigation of defect sites in hexagonal-boron nitride (h-Bn), a compound that is typically used in the cosmetic industry, to determine any catalytic activity. Specifically, the author focused the research on the hydrogen reaction using defect-laden hexagonal-boron nitride (dh-Bn), and suggests that successful catalysis will add to the short list of non-metal catalysts and provide an alternative catalyst that costs significantly less than traditional metal catalysts which are commonly used in commercial industries. The second nitrogen-containing material to be researched as part of this study was copper(I) iodide, for its potential use as a novel sensor for narcotic substances due to its photoluminescent properties, building on research in the photophysics field. The author provides a mechanochemistry overview and literature review, with a discussion of mechanochemical synthesis, catalytic hydrogenation, and methods for the presumptive identification of illicit substances. The author then discusses heterogenous metal-free hydrogenation over dh-Bn, photoluminescent copper(I) iodide cluster compounds for the novel detection and identification of heterocyclic amines of forensic interest, and the integration of basic research with app-based analysis. Results included the realization of a new metal-free heterogeneous hydrogenation catalyst through the introduction of defects into h-Bn sheets, and the author suggests that the use of metal-free hydrogenation catalysts will reduce the risks associated with incorporation of metals into hydrogenation products.