Oxide Nanocomposites for Catalysis



Ambient-pressure XPS measurement of LaFeO3 thin films



In collaboration with Prof. Byron Farnum in Auburn Chemistry, we are studying spinel and perovskite oxides to understand the physical and chemical properties that govern their behavior as catalysts for water splitting in hydrogen fuel cells. Many of these transition metal oxides exhibit excellent performance in oxygen evolution or oxygen reduction reactions, but to date none has matched the performance of platinum for both reactions. By examining their fundamental physical properties in a controlled environment using molecular beam epitaxy growth and x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, coupled with aqueous chemical experiments,  we hope to understand if a combination of materials can be used in lieu of far more expensive platinum catalysts.

This work is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Materials Research, Solid State and Materials Chemistry program under award number 1809847 with additional funding from EPSCOR.

Surfaces and Interfaces of Complex Oxides Grown by Hybrid MBE

RHEED pattern of SrTiO3 film grown by hybrid MBE
RHEED pattern of SrTiO3 film grown by hybrid MBE

Pioneering work on the growth of complex oxides such as SrTiO3 using a metal-organic precursor for the delivery of transition metal ions began a decade ago and has quickly led to the emergence of “hybrid MBE” as the state-of-the-art approach for the growth of electronic-grade oxide thin films. We have recently commissioned the first hybrid MBE system at a U.S. university with an integrated x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy system, which allows us to study surface and interfacial behavior in oxide heterostructures grown by hybrid MBE in a way that no other group has thus far been able to.

This work is funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research through the Young Investigator program.