Catalysts lie at the heart of many technologies such as chemical synthesis, degradation of environmental pollutants and fuel cells for clean energy conversion. The way catalysts are designed at the nanoscale has a big impact on their performance in a catalytic reaction. At MCAG we develop ways to fine-tune the properties of nanocatalysts for different applications. The development of nanocatalysts includes controlling and optimising the physical and chemical parameters of nanoparticles such as size, shape and structure. In addition to tailoring the nanoparticles, tuning the environment by hosting them in confined spaces in porous nanomaterials also provide increased performance and stability.
Figure 1: Nanocages
Catalysts are often made from precious noble metals which represents a key challenge due to their high cost and low availability. As a result, the development of better preforming and inexpensive alternatives is a critical issue across all area of catalysis. At MCAG we use a design-driven approach to develop more sustainable catalysts, such as the incorporation of earth-abundant metals through alloying and using architectures that maximise the availability of the catalyst such as core-shell nanoparticles and nanostructures with hollow interiors. Advanced characterisation of nanoparticle structure and surface chemistry is also essential to the rational design and synthesis of nanocatalysts.
Figure 2: Paladium Nanocrystals