Our research focuses on rational design of nanostructured materials for electrocatalytic energy conversion. Electrocatalysis plays a key role in energy conversion processes that are central to renewable energy technologies such as fuel cells and electrolyzers. Typically, the poor catalyst performance is the major source of efficiency loss for the entire device. A rational design of catalysts relies on our understanding of structure–activity relationships and reaction intermediates. We will use in situ scanning probe microscopy and synchrotron-based X-ray spectroscopy to probe the atomic structure and chemical state of catalyst interfaces. Based on the understandings, we will develop highly active, selective, and stable catalysts for fuel cells and artificial photosynthesis.

(1) In Situ Microscopy and Spectroscopy Characterization of Catalyst Interfaces
  • In Situ Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM) to map electrochemical activity on model catalysts
  • Ambient-pressure X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) to probe catalyst-gas interface
  • Synchrotron-based X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) to probe catalyst-liquid interface
(2) Rational Design of Electrocatalysts for Fuel Cells and Artificial Photosynthesis
  • Grain boundary engineering in metal nanostructures for fuel cell catalysis
  • Metal nanocatalysts for nitrogen reduction to ammonia under ambient conditions
  • Metal/metal oxide composite materials for carbon dioxide reduction to liquid fuels