Laser-Made Nanomaterials for Clean Energy Electrocatalysis
Astrid M. Müller, Department of Chemical Engineering, University of Rochester
Friday, October 25, 2019
My group develops controlled nanomaterials for sustainable energy solutions. Importantly, we answer fundamental questions what drives functionality by systematic studies of how structural, compositional, and mechanistic details govern performance. We rationally design tailored nanomaterials and realize them by a proven-to-be-successful laser method that I have advanced into a flexible synthetic tool, capitalizing on its unique advantages of rapidity, independent control of size, composition, and crystallinity, unnecessity of surfactants, and ease of preparation of multimetal nanostructures. Nanoparticles are formed by very rapid expansion of a laser-induced plasma comprised of elements from a solid target and the surrounding liquid. Nanoparticles emerge from extremely high temperatures, pressures and densities of matter, followed by rapid cooling, yielding metastable materials, which, for example, we have shown to be better water-oxidation catalysts than their counterparts that were prepared at less extreme conditions. Our laser method is game changing with regard to its capability of preparing controlled multimetal nanostructures in sufficiently large quantities to study them in bulk and doing so quickly enough that systematic series of nanostructures can be made for rapid optimization.