We design and develop new nanomaterials for applications in alternative energy and catalysis. We aim to gain a detailed understanding of the effect of geometry and composition on the physicochemical properties of nanocrystals, and, as a logical consequence, to use this information in developing rational design rules for the preparation of efficient materials for a sustainable society. Our research includes the following major directions:
The ability to alter properties of nanocrystals by varying their structural characteristics (such as size, shape, surface morphology, and surface chemistry) paves the way for a variety of nanomaterials applications. We develop synthetic routes for shape-controlled nanocrystals and study their growth mechanisms to further expand nanochemistry synthetic toolbox.
Catalysts based on shape-controlled nanocrystals offer unsurpassed control over the arrangement of atoms on their surface to produce efficient catalytic active sites for industrially important catalytic processes. Due to new advances in synthetic procedures yielding shape specific nanocrystals, now it is an exciting and rewarding time for the design of the next generation of highly efficient catalysts to achieve lower production costs and sustainable use of rare materials. We study the effects of composition, size, shape, surface defects, and surface chemistry of shaped nanocrystals to gain a fundamental understanding of the structure – catalytic performance relationship in nanocatalysis.
In addition to conventional catalysis, we explore our nanomaterials in electrocatalysis, with a focus on electrocatalytic carbon dioxide conversion into fuels and chemical feedstocks, as well as organic electrosynthesis. Renewable electricity from solar and wind provides a green source of electrons for chemical transformations, while nanocrystals with specific catalytic active sites serve as electrode materials for selective synthesis.
Due to quantum confinement effects in metal nanoparticles, their conduction electrons can collectively oscillate under visible light irradiation of a specific frequency determined by the size and shape of the nanoparticles. This phenomenon is studied by nanoplasmonics, and its applications span sensing, solar energy harvesting, and plasmonic catalysis. We explore the utilization of plasmonic properties of metal nanoparticles in catalysis and for enhanced light harvesting in plasmonic solar cells.