We develop new electrocatalyst materials for processes including hydrogen evolution and oxidation, oxygen evolution and reduction, and carbon dioxide reduction. These reactions are necessary for electricity generation in hydrogen fuel cells, H2 production through water electrolysis, and CO2 conversion to create useful fuels and chemicals. Our approach is to understand the catalyst properties that control activity, selectivity, and stability by combining catalyst synthesis and electrochemical performance testing with physical and chemical characterization as well as computational and theoretical modeling performed by collaborators.

Hydrogen Evolution Reaction

As the world consumes more and more fossil fuels and the global climate becomes warmer and warmer, people start to reconsider the ways we burn the earth. Renewable energies are like rising stars these days just because we realize that this may be the only way out of the energy and environment crisis. Solar cells, wind energy, global thermal energy, and bio mass, all of them claim that they are the future of the world. Hydrogen, which is the most friendly fuel to the environment and has the largest energy density, came up to the stage because of not only its broad applications, but also the ease to produce.

Achieving high energetic efficiency for water splitting requires the use of a catalyst to minimize the overpotential necessary to drive the HER. Platinum is the best known catalyst for HER and requires very small overpotentials even at high reaction rates in acidic solutions. However, the scarcity and high cost of Pt limits its widespread technological use. We study the fundamental material properties that determine catalytic activity for the HER.

Meng Cao, Xinyu Zhang, Jiaqian Qin*, Riping Liu, Enhancement of Hydrogen Evolution Reaction Performance of Graphitic Carbon Nitride with Nickel Boride Incorporated, ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering 6 (2018) 16198-16204. link

Meng Cao, Zhe Xue, Jingjing Niu, Jiaqian Qin*, Montree Sawangphruk, Xinyu Zhang, Riping Liu, Facile electrodeposition of Ni-Cu-P dendrite nanotube films with enhanced hydrogen evolution reaction activity and durability, ACS applied materials & interfaces 10 (2018) 35224-35233 link