LDH Nano-Engineering

Layered double hydroxides (LDHs), a class of the vital 2D layered anionic clays, consist of layers with positively charged (brucite-like M(OH)6 octahedra) and anions located interlayer. Owing to the advantages of the adjustable chemical composition of layers, easy exchange of anions between layers, structure topological transformation and large specific surface area, LDHs have many important applications in photocatalysis and electrocatalysis—as catalysts themselves, catalyst supports, or catalyst precursors.

Our group focuses on the synthesis of novel LDH-based materials with unique catalytic performance and explores the structure-property correlations of LDH-based catalysts. By the strategy of vacancy fabrication, element doping, layer etching and in situ topological transformation, the properties of LDH-based catalysts in broad spectrum absorption, charge separation and transfer, reactant adsorption and activation were improved dramatically. Through the above research, we have laid an excellent foundation for the high efficiency of photocatalytic and electrocatalytic reactions.

C1 Photo-Conversion

Industry development and population explosion have rendered the problems of energy shortage and environmental pollution. C1 (CO, CO2, CH4 and CH3OH, etc.) chemistry is the most prospective alternative to oil route for the production of fuels and basic chemical raw materials. It is increasingly urgent to find clean and sustainable energy sources to substitute traditional fossil fuels. Photo-driven is one of the most promising and practical solutions to current global energy and environmental issues because it is an efficient way to harvest and utilize solar energy that is generally abundant everywhere on the earth.

Our group focuses on the discovery of novel and efficient photo-driven catalysts containing 2D LDH, LDH derived metals, LDH derived metals/oxide interface) to meet the above challenges. By doing so, these catalysts are able to predictably and efficiently convert solar energy into chemical energy through photo-driven (photo/photothermal catalysis) Fischer-Tropsch synthesis, CO2 reduction (include CO2+H2 and CO2+H2O), water gas shift, steam reforming of methane and steam reforming of methanol process.

N2 Photo-Fixation

Utilizing solar energy to convert molecular nitrogen into fixed nitrogen products represents a promising approach for the production of valued nitrogen-based chemicals under ambient conditions. This field is of great research significance and is full of opportunities and challenges.

Our group focuses on the establishment of diversified reaction system and rigorous experimental protocols, as well as the synthesis of various 2D nanostructured photocatalysts (such as LDH), motivating to efficiently convert molecular nitrogen into ammonia, nitrate, urea, etc. Furthermore, state-of-the-art in-situ characterizations and theoretical simulations are adopted to unravel the structure-performance relationship in photocatalysts as well as the mechanistic understanding of different nitrogen conversion processes. We wish to guide the design and fabrication of emerging high-performance photocatalysts and photocatalytic reaction systems to promote the flourishing development of solar-driven nitrogen fixation.

Nobel-Metal Free Electrocatalysis

Using electrocatalysis to realize the conversion between electric energy and chemical energy is one of the ideal ways to realize the sustainable development of energy and the green and efficient synthesis of chemicals. Advanced electrocatalysis system is the core of realizing high-efficiency electric chemical energy conversion, which includes many scientific issues like catalyst design, interfacial charge transfer catalytic reaction mechanism, and electrocatalysis device design. Moreover, it is also an intersection of electrochemistry, interface science, material science and theoretical calculation. In recent years, electrocatalysis has become the research focus in the field of energy and catalysis.

According to the current development of electrocatalysis, our research group focuses on the development of efficient electrocatalytic materials, including the design and preparation of carbon based, non-noble metal based and noble metal based atomic- and nano-catalytic materials. In addition, the structure-activity relationship of the catalytic materials, the structural design of catalytic electrodes and the exploration of new electrocatalysis devices are also included. Through the above research, we can provide efficient catalytic materials and devices for fuel cells, electrolysis of water, carbon dioxide reduction, electrocatalytic organic synthesis and other important energy conversion and chemical synthesis reactions.

Three-Phase Catalysis

Traditional heterogeneous catalysis mainly occurs at gas-solid or liquid-solid two phase interfaces. However, gas, solid and liquid phases coexist in many novel catalytic reaction systems (such as water decomposition, carbon dioxide reduction, oxygen reduction, etc.), resulting in multi-interactions between three-phase substances (infiltration, adhesion, interfacial transport, etc.). Conventional catalysis theories and research methods usually do not consider these influencing factors, which limits people's understanding and application of the catalytic conversion process occurs at three-phase interfaces.

Our group focus on the interfacial diffusion and mass transfer processes in three-phase interface catalytic reactions. The main research results include: 1) Developing in-situ characterization technology of three phase interface mass transfer kinetics based on fluorescent molecular probe, to reveal the structure-activity relationship between the three phases interface structure diffusion mass transfer chemical reaction; 2) Developing high-resolution three phase interface imaging method based on confocal imaging technology, to reveal the wetting state of the three phase interface at nanoscale; 3) Expanding the photocatalytic and electrocatalytic reaction systems based on three phase interfaces (acetylene reduction, CO2 reduction, oxygen reduction, etc.).