LNCE works at the interface between materials chemistry and electrocatalysis. Two main themes can be identified in our research program, which are: 1) Synthetic development of multicomponent nanocrystals via colloidal chemistry; 2) Utilizing well-controlled nanocrystals as electrocatalyst for small molecule conversion, with particular focus on CO2. A summary is given below.

Synthetic development of multicomponent nanocrystals

The synthetic development of nanocrystals (NCs) still proceeds mostly via trials and errors as the chemistry and processes behind their nucleation and growth are mostly unknown. While ”intuition” has been developed for single component NCs, guidelines for the synthesis of multicomponent NCs are still missing. Herein, the term “multicomponent NCs” refers to nano-objects comprising multiple domains (i.e. core@shell, dimers, segmented particles) or multiple elements (i.e. multimetallic alloys, multication oxides and chalcogenides). So far, we have focused on discovering new approaches to access two classes of multicomponent NCs: multinary oxides and Cu-based NCs.

The team is contributing to advance the field by devising alternative synthetic routes guided by the understanding of the chemistry behind the formation of these NCs using a combination of in-situ X-Ray measurements and of more conventional ex-situ techniques.

Electrocatalytically-Active Nanocrystals

Defining design principles to precisely control nanocrystals composition and morphology is scientifically interesting and technologically important at the same time. Catalytic properties are strongly impacted by the catalyst size and shape. Furthermore, at the nanoscale new properties may arise which deviate from the bulk behavior.

LNCE is exploiting such advantages of colloidal chemistry to build solid relations between catalyst structure and its activity and to gain deeper insights into the mechanisms of the electrochemical CO2 reduction reaction  (CO2RR).