Advanced 1-3D nanomaterials for green hydrogen production by water splitting
The goal of the research group is to develop functional nanomaterials for future applications in electronics, optoelectronics, energy, and environment. The research line sets itself the objective to optimize the performances exploiting approaches such as the formation of composite materials and introduction of impurities while investigating in depth the electrical, optical, and structural properties of the nanostructures.
The energy demand all over the world is expected to double by 2050, placing humankind in the situation of seeking new solutions. Therefore, the discovery of alternative methods for energy production going beyond fossil-based fuels are required. This task could be accomplished by introducing a cleaner energy source that does not produce CO2 as by product. In this regard, hydrogen has been proposed as a promising renewable energy source having high energy content and having water as reaction product. The reaction that allows oxygen and hydrogen production is water splitting and usually it can be achieved involving a catalyst able to speed up the reaction and increase the products’ generation.
Many solutions have been proposed over the last decade. Inorganic nanostructures have been studied due to their stability and scalability, but at the same time the solutions proposed are not applicable to marketable devices. There is a lack of a link able to combine research with industry, allowing to move from the laboratorial scale to the possible marketing. Hence, new materials must be developed and studied to overcome today’s problems.
The research group is now focusing on hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and oxygen evolution reaction (OER). In both cases, the goal is to investigate and understand the underlying mechanisms of the reactions and how the introduction of a catalyst in the system affects the overall performance. In addition to a work environment where different synthetic approaches can be exploited, a wealth of instruments is available for the characterization of the physico-chemical properties of the catalyst under investigation leading to the identification of the limitations and the subsequent improvement of the system.
Nanomaterials are rising an enormous attention due to their unmatched electrical and mechanical properties. Currently, we research and design 0D, 1D, 2D and 3D advanced functional energy materials. The ultimate goals are to identify promising materials and to unravel their reaction paths to optimize the overall performances. All of this is being done in a “from lab to fab” mindset since it is essential to achieve a practical application of our materials. Our intention is to give a contribution to society and to the development of technologies at an industrial level.