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Development of Hybrid Nanostructures for Photocatalysis and Fuel Cell Applications

Objective

The goal of this study is two-folds: first to develop a new class of catalytic nanostructures based on semiconductor-metal hybrid composites and then to optimize their performance as fuel cell electrocatalysts. Presently, the commercial use of fuel cells is not yet viable due to the inefficiency of the required four electron reduction of adsorbed oxygen species at the cell cathode. This deficiency poses a fundamental challenge to the commercialization of fuel cell technologies. Several electrocatalytic metals have been employed to facilitate this oxygen reduction reaction (ORR), with platinum and platinum based alloys exhibiting the highest catalytic activity. Despite the use of platinum catalysts, the electron-transfer kinetics at the fuel cell cathode is still languid. In addition, platinum is an expensive precious metal, therefore, to achieve large-scale development and commercialization of fuel cells, it is essential that an alternative catalytic material is manufactured. To address this issue, we propose to design a novel catalytic structure which is comprised of a metal anchored onto a semiconductor body. This semiconductor-metal composite structure will take advantage of the intrinsic electron-transfer mechanisms within semiconductors and couple that with the catalytic activity of metals, yielding an electrocatalyst which provides excellent catalytic performance and cost-effectiveness. Fundamentally, this work will broaden our understanding of various essential parameters, such as material composition (the semiconductor and the metal), electron-transfer dynamics (i.e., electrochemical, photochemical), morphology of the nanostrucutres, as well as crystallinity, which impact the performance of an electrocatalyst. Such a fundamental framework is critical in the optimization of catalytic activity and thus will provide invaluable insights which will benefit the development of fuel cell technology.

Call for proposal

FP7-PEOPLE-2009-RG
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Funding Scheme

MC-IRG - International Re-integration Grants (IRG)

Coordinator

BEN-GURION UNIVERSITY OF THE NEGEV
Address
.
84105 Beer Sheva
Israel
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 100 000
Administrative Contact
Daphna Tripto (Ms.)