Research Statement

As a greenhouse gas, CO2 contributes to global warming significantly. Creating a carbon-neutral cycle via converting CO2 back to value added chemicals such as carbon monoxide, methane, methanol etc. contributes to the efforts in curbing the effects of global warming.

The Haber-Bosch process is the main industrial process for the artificial fixation of nitrogen. This process consumes 1-2% of the world’s energy supply and indirectly contributes to the 3-5% release of annual anthropogenic CO2. In recent years, researchers have been attempting to find a catalyst that is able to realize this process in ambient temperature and pressure.

To this end, our research focuses on design, development and implementation of catalytically active materials for addressing the abovementioned problem. We combine the two major fields of catalysis, namely photocatalyis and electrocatalysis to create a synergistic effect resulting in photoelectrocatalysis where the electrode materials are the sensitizers and the catalysts at the same time.

Surface Modificiation:

Modification of the catalytic surfaces with various ligands can affect the hydrophobicity as well as the kinetics at the surface without changing the thermodynamic properties of the catalytic material. For example, controlling the number of protons coming onto the catalyst surface during CO2 reduction can help tuning the CO2 to H2 ratio offering a precise control mechanism.

Organic-Inorganic Hybrid Materials:

In addition to kinetic control (surface modification), hybrid materials can offer new catalytic properties by combining the properties of starting materials. With this in mind, we design and synthesize hybrid materials consisting of catalytically-active metal centers supported by light-active organic polymers/ligands to drive the photoelectrocatalytic processes.

Different wetting properties on Cu/Ag electrodes upon introduction of surface modification

Different wetting properties on Cu/Ag electrodes upon introduction of surface modification