Conversion of CO2 to synthetic fuels is essential for climate-change mitigation and renewable energy production. This project will develop a novel, disruptive and sustainable approach to the photoelectrocatalytic CO2 reduction reaction (CO2RR). The interdisciplinary methodology will combine breakthrough approaches to self-assemble nanoparticles into metallic nanofilms at fluidic interfaces, with electrochemical control of ion and electron transfer at an immiscible liquid|liquid (L|L) interface, and custom in situ UV/vis and Raman setups to probe the electrified L|L interface. The major innovation will be unprecedented electrochemical-control of the degree of plasmonic photo-charging of the interfacial metallic nanofilms to overcome the kinetic bottleneck of the multielectron, multiproton CO2RR towards more energy-dense C2 or C3 hydrocarbons. This MSCA-IF will significantly support the EU’s goal to decarbonise the energy sector, detailed in the European Green Deal, via high-impact scientific research and intellectual property generation for environmentally-friendly technologies. The Experienced Researcher (ER) will be supervised by Dr Micheál D. Scanlon at the University of Limerick (UL), Ireland, and undertake a secondment with Prof. Steven Bell at Queens University Belfast (QUB), U.K. The ER will engage in well-structured dissemination activities of the project results both to expert scientists and the general public using a multitude of engagement and outreach platforms. While the ER is accomplished in spectroelectrochemistry and nanomaterials synthesis, this fellowship will greatly expand his core scientific experimental and communication skills, international outlook, and broaden his professional network and inter-sectoral employability. Ultimately, this enhanced research capacity will allow the ER is to establish his own world-class research laboratory focusing on electrocatalysis through competitive grant acquisition, e.g. an ERC Starting grant.
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