Non-platinum based nanomaterials for hydrogen evolution are extremely desirable because hydrogen is considered one of the prime alternative fuels. Hydrogen is considered a “clean-burning” fuel since the only by-product through combustion is water. Surface ligands are a ubiquitous trait of all colloidally synthesized nanoparticles catalysts. The surface ligands stabilize the surface of the nanoparticles and prevent agglomeration. The identity of these ligands has a huge range, including amines, phosphines, and carboxylates. Generally, these ligands are thought to inhibit the activity of the particles for hydrogen evolution because they occupy active sites. However, there is no known direct correlation between type of surface ligand and its affect on catalysis. In this study, we are interested in studying how the identity of the surface ligand affects cobalt and cobalt phosphide nanoparticles’ activity for the hydrogen evolution reaction, and are ultimately working towards designing ligands that can improve and/or participate in catalysis.
Advisor: Brandi Cossairt – Chemistry