In most electrochemical reactions, the action happens at the electrode surface. For many promising next generation energy storage systems (both batteries and fuel cells) this reality constrains their economic feasibility, as the best surfaces for electrochemistry tend to be found in precious metals like platinum or gold. My research focuses on making the surfaces of less ideal, but earth abundant materials, more reactive through thoughtful functionalization with organic molecules. Specifically with the support of this award I am investigating the modification of colloidally synthesized transition metal phosphide nano-particle surfaces for enhanced electrocatalytic hydrogen evolution and related multi-proton, multi-electron chemistries. This work will require novel synthesis, quantitative surface characterization, and rigorous electrochemical interrogation to validate our hypotheses.
Advisor Brandi Cossairt – Chemistry