We research the chemistry and physics of materials in relation to how they affect catalyzing certain chemical processes.
In general, we examine two different kinds of reactions: those that use renewable energy sources to transform water and
CO2 into fuels and chemicals, and those that turn those fuels back into useable energy in the form of electricity.
The performance of these chemical reactions is heavily reliant on the energy conversion efficiencies of the catalytic
materials. Therefore, a crucial part of implementing these devices is the creation of strong, earth-abundant catalysts
with high catalytic activity and selectivity. The catalytic process mainly occurred on the metal surfaces, leading to the
very low utilization efficiency of the catalysts. To minimize the waste of the non-accessible atoms in the bulk metals,
we developed several strategies to modify metal structures to expose as many metal atoms as possible. One of the
most popular methods is to downsize the solid metal catalysts to the atomic level, leading to the catalytic behaviors
of the metal catalysts with different sizes changes significantly.
Some of our group members are focused on single metal atom catalysts (SMACs) and nanocluster catalysts
(NCs) and those catalysts have been emerged as promising alternatives to traditional metal catalysts due to
their unique properties. SMACs are individual metal atoms dispersed on a support material, while nanocluster
catalysts are clusters of a few to several hundred atoms. Both catalysts offer improved catalytic performance,
selectivity, and stability compared to conventional metal catalysts. Our team has developed various synthesis
strategies for SMACs on different substrates, dispersed metal nanoclusters on carbon support, and these
materials have been applied in various electrocatalytic reactions. These strategies have shown promising
results in enhancing the catalytic activity and stability of SMACs and NCs. The potential of these new catalysts
in various catalytic applications underscores the importance of further research in this field.