The spinel class of metal oxides hosts diverse materials, some of which make excellent catalysts. Fe3O4 is already the industrial catalyst for the high-temperature water-gas shift reaction (CO+H2O -> H2+CO2), but research is needed to identify the optimal replacement for the toxic Cr promoter/stabilizer. Ternary MeFe2O4 compounds (Me=Fe, Ni, Co, Mn) are active and stable for the electrochemical oxygen evolution reaction (OER). However, the structure of the active catalyst and the reaction mechanisms are unknown. While these reactions appear different, both clearly benefit from a combination of multivalent cations in the surface layers.
P04 is trying to find out why, using a combination of atomic-scale imaging, a host of spectroscopies, and theory.
Currently, a PhD position is available in P04. The project will involve studying the reactivity of complex oxide thin films at the atomic scale using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopic techniques.
If you are interested, please send your applications to Gareth Parkinson.