Alcohols are energy-dense fuels and small-chemical building blocks for electrosyntheses of commodity chemicals and fuels. Developing earth-abundant alternatives, such as nickel, to noble metals as catalysts for alcohol electro-oxidation is a critical step towards global sustainability. Nickel-based materials catalyze this reaction by forming a layer of NiOOH (in alkaline conditions) that assists in the rate-limiting deprotonation step of the alcohol on a surface. My research involves synthesizing a series of Ni-based nanocrystals (Ni2P, Ni3S2, Ni3B, etc) and exploring how the incorporation of additional non-metals modulates surface energetics. Additionally, I will be investigating how the oxy-hydroxide layer forms on different nanocrystals and ultimately impacts activity for methanol electro-oxidation.
Advisor: Brandi Cossairt – Chemistry