One of the greatest challenges of the 21st century will be securing cheap and renewable sources of energy. One of the most promising approaches to this challenge is to design catalysts from earth abundant materials capable of implementing key chemical reactions including splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen (H2O → 2H+ + O2); and both the oxidation (H2→ 2H+) and reduction (2H+→ H2) of hydrogen among many others. Structural type and disorder have become important questions in catalyst design- it is often noted in studies of functional materials that the most active catalysts are “disordered” or “amorphous” in nature. But the impact of this “disorder” on catalysis and other material properties including surface properties has been hard to quantify- in part because of the challenges of characterising disordered materials. Synchrotron based X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS) is a unique tool which enables us to study materials in their “functional active state” even when materials are thin films which are disordered and amorphous. In this talk I will examine some of the things we have learnt about electro-catalysts from XAS – from dopants to disorder, how we have discovered new catalysts and how we have improved others. I will talk to you about some of the unique properties of disordered materials that which if engineered properly may prove to be useful and novel class of materials.
Rosalie Hocking is a chemist who leads a program studying small molecule transformations at Swinburne University of Technology. She is particularly fascinated with the chemical reactions of carbon dioxide, nitrogen and water as they key for the development of a carbon neutral economy. Her works uses a variety of analytical and chemical methodologies including the Australian synchrotron where her group are regular users of the XAS beamline. Rosalie completed her PhD in physical and inorganic chemistry from the University Sydney in 2004. She has since held positions Stanford University/Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory, CSIRO Land and Water, Monash University and James Cook University. She has recently joined Swinburne University of Technology as a Vice Chancellor’s Women in STEM fellow & senior lecturer.
Dr Rosalie Hocking (Swinburne University of Technology)
11 November 2020