KEY RESEARCH AREAS
The Jiao group develops novel electrochemical devices for solving critical issues in energy storage and sustainable chemical production. Currently, the group is focusing on two major research topics: (1) Electrochemical systems for carbon utilization. The team is developing high-rate carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide electrolysis processes with orders of magnitude higher current densities than conventional batch systems through innovative catalyst design and electrode-electrolyte interface engineering. (2) Nanostructured materials for energy applications. The team is investigating novel synthetic methods to prepare nanostructured materials with morphologies and compositions that cannot be accessed using existing approaches. The newly synthesized nanomaterials may exhibit unique properties as electrocatalysts and electrode materials.Breakthrough in these directions may help us address global climate changes by providing clean, sustainable, and environmentally friendly fuel and chemical supplies.
Sustainable fuel/chemical production via photochemical and electrochemical approaches
Fuel and chemical productions from abundant sources, e.g. CO2 and H2O, are ideal approaches towards sustainable and green energy and chemical industries. Solar harvesting through the artificial photosynthetic method is one of the most promising approaches to utilize solar energy at the terawatt scale. In our laboratory, we are combining experimental and computational approaches to explore new chemistry and novel nanostructured catalysts for two key half reactions: water oxidation and CO2 reduction. Our ultimate goal is to couple both reactions in a highly integrated device to produce green fuels/chemicals in a cost-effective and efficient way.
Nanostructured materials for energy applications
Nanostructured materials, particularly nanoalloys, are an important group of materials. Such solids can combine open d-shells, high surface area, well-defined facets, with the result that they exhibit many interesting properties in catalysis, electron transfer, energy conversion and storage, and magnetic devices. We are currently focusing on developing new synthetic methodologies in order to fabricate nanostructured materials that cannot be accessed by traditional approaches. We believe that new materials hold the key to our clean and sustainable energy future.
Process and reactor design for electrochemical systems
Process and reactor design are important topics of chemical engineering because they often dominate the overall performance of electrochemical systems. In our laboratory, we not only perform fundamental research on novel catalysts but also design new reaction process and electrochemical reactors for advanced applications. Recent research efforts include prototype development, process engineering and system integration.
In-situ and Operando structural characterizations
Heterogeneous catalysis at the solid/liquid/vapor interface plays an important role in many energy applications, and the ability to observe dynamic structural changes of working catalysts under reaction conditions is invaluable. Such information provides important insights for us to understand key promotion and poisoning phenomena, and allows for tailoring the design of next-generation catalysts. X-ray absorption spectroscopy and Infrared spectroscopy are powerful tools to probe local chemical environment and oxidation state of catalyst under working conditions.