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Research Overview​​​

Our research group focuses on understanding how the structure of electrocatalysts and the surrounding environment translates to changes in key thermodynamics and kinetics at the electrode-electrolyte interfaces.

To achieve this, our group uses highly porous and crystalline metalorganic frameworks (MOFs) and transition metal nitrides.

Click below to learn more about each project.  

Structure-Thermochemistry-Activity Relationships of MOF-based Electrocatalysts​​​

Fundamental to catalysis is the understanding of the catalyst structure, thermodynamics of elemental steps, and the overall reaction kinetics. Our group aims to use structurally well-defined MOFs as candidate electrocatalysts to directly measure how the local and the extended lattice structure impact key thermodynamics like the catalytically relevant, intermediate binding energy. By further correlating these to the reaction kinetics, we will establish molecular-level heterogeneous catalyst design principles.

MOF as Electrocatalysts

Microenvironment Control at the Electrode-Electrolyte Interfaces using MOFs

The physical and chemical environment within the MOF pores can be designed through a rational choice of its structural components. Our group aims to understand how the functional groups within the MOF pores can be precisely tailored to control the molecular arrangement at the interface of MOF, the electrocatalyst, and the reaction medium. These studies can establish MOFs as structure-directing agents to regulate catalytically relevant thermodynamics and consequently, harness high activity and selectivity in energy-relevant transformations. 

MOFs to Control the Local Environment

Transition Metal Nitride-Catalyzed Dinitrogen Electro-Reduction​​​

Nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) at mild electrochemical potentials is an attractive alternative to the energy-intensive Haber-Bosch process that is widely used today to support synthetic ammonia for fertilizers and many other purposes. Structure-activity relationships to understand how catalyst structure can be modified to achieve high activity and selectivity towards ammonia remain rare in the literature. Using transition metal nitride as candidate electrocatalysts, our group aims to systematically modulate the electrode-electrolyte interfacial structure to understand how the thermodynamics of catalytic steps. These studies should lead to structure-activity relationships that are critical to understanding how to enhance the activity and selectivity of NRR. 

Electrocatalytic N2 Reduction Reaction
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