The DuChene lab is developing new catalysts capable of harnessing sunlight to transform readily abundant small molecules, such as H2O, CO2, and N2, into chemical fuels, fertilizers, and raw chemical feedstocks for the industrial synthesis of materials and pharmaceuticals.
We employ shape-controlled synthesis of novel catalytic nanomaterials and develop strategies for their assembly into functional devices capable of steering the selectivity of chemical reactions. Achieving such control requires an improved understanding of how interfacial electronic structure governs charge transfer at the nanoscale. To that end, we also develop new nanophotonic platforms that will allow in operando studies of catalytic systems in real time to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of multi-step chemical reactions. These new insights will help establish structure-function relationships that will serve as the basis for the design of new catalysts with improved selectivity for a variety of chemical transformations.