Minerva Fast-Track Group
In electrocatalysis, the electrolyte is normally used to conduct charge between the two electrodes in which reactions are taking place. The cations and anions present in this conductive media, are however not just mere spectators. These species can strongly impact reaction activity, selectivity and even catalyst stability. Still, a lack of understanding these electrolyte effects and the underlying mechanisms hinders the optimization of electrocatalytic processes via electrolyte engineering.
In the Electrode-electrolyte interfaces group we study the fundamentals of surface-electrolyte interactions using classical electrochemistry and also operando techniques as Surface X-Ray Diffraction. Our goal is to unveil how the nature of ions in the electrolyte affects reactions relevant for our society´s energy transition – as the production of green H2 in water electrolysers and the reduction of O2 in fuel cells. To this end, we also explore strategies to tune the interfacial ion concentration and pH in order to favor such reactions, for example via modification of electrodes with metal hydroxides.
We are particularly interested in non-noble metals and multi-metallic catalyst systems. How does the electrolyte affect the activity/selectivity of non-metallic, nanostructured, multicomponent catalysts? Through which mechanism can hydroxides catalyze reactions? What is the structure and composition of the electrocatalyst in different electrolytes under operando conditions? How does the nature of the charged substrate influence the ordering of interfacial water and ions?
Combining fundamental electrochemistry studies with detailed characterization using the broad range of techniques available at the Department of Interface Science, the goal is to fundamentally understand the electrocatalytic interface of practical systems at the molecular level.
Dr. Mariana Monteiro receives a Minerva Fast-Track Fellowship