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.

Metastable Oxides for High-Mobility and Spin-Orbit 2D Electronics

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 are pursuing the development of new materials including SrNbO3 and SrTaO3 as donor materials for interfacial charge transfer in 2D electronic systems.

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

Topological Phenomena in 4d and 5d Complex Oxide Interfaces

Complex oxides comprised of 4d and 5d transition metals exhibit significantly higher spin-orbit coupling than those comprised of 3d elements. These materials have been predicted to exhibit high temperature superconductivity and other emergent topological phenomena when formed in epitaxial thin film heterostructures and superlattices. These properties make 4d and 5d materials promising for use as materials to enable topological quantum computation. In this project we are developing ways to synthesize Ir and Hf-based complex oxides to examine emergent properties at interfaces when they are grown as superlattices.

This CAREER project is funded by the National Science Foundation, Division of Materials Research, Ceramics program under award number 2045993.