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H2020 ERC - Proof of Concept Grant 2020-2022

In-situ fabricated hydrogen evolution catalysts for alkaline water electrolysis

Abstract: Hydrogen could replace fossil fuels, and electrolytic water splitting using renewable energy sources is a promising way to obtain it. The most active hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) electrocatalysts to date are platinum group metals (PGM), mainly Pt and its alloys, deposited onto a carbon support. Pt is however costly and the catalysts degrade over time, due to aggregation of metal nanoparticles over the support. Also, no valuable contenders to Pt group metals have been identified for the alkaline HER. To address these issues, we propose to focus again on PGM based catalysts, but with solutions that reduce the amount of noble metal and that ensure catalyst stability by preventing aggregation. In our recently completed ERC project TRANS-NANO, we have prepared a highly active and stable HER catalyst, composed of a nanostructured Cu- Pt porous layer, directly grown onto a Ti current collector by in-situ slow electrodeposition of Pt. This catalyst delivers high hydrogen evolution current and outperforms the benchmark Pt/C in terms of activity at high overpotentials, and solves the most critical issue of Pt/C: its low long-term stability under operational conditions. Our catalyst can achieve the same performances of the Pt/C catalyst, but with a much lower Pt loading. For Ru, the process delivers a Cu-Ru/Ti catalyst with even better performance than the Cu-Pt/Ti system. In this POC project, we will upscale the production of Cu-Pt and Cu-Ru catalysts, starting from large area Ti substrates. Their HER activity will be tested under industrially relevant conditions. Such electrode architecture will enable the fabrication of high-performance alkaline water electrolysers for large-scale applications. Our team is best suited to take this challenge, having a consolidated expertise in developing nanoscale materials and catalysts, and in their exploitation for both oxygen and hydrogen evolution reactions. The proposal envisages a strong collaboration with the industry sector.

Total budget: 150000.0€

Total contribution: 150000.0€


FP7 ERC - Consolidator Grant 2014-2019

Advancing the Study of Chemical, Structural and Surface Transformations in Colloidal Nanocrystals

Abstract: Colloidal inorganic nanocrystals (NCs) are among the most investigated nanomaterials in Nanoscience due to their high versatility. Research on NCs went through much advancement lately, especially on synthesis, assembly and on the study of their transformations, most notably via cation exchange (all fields in which the PI has contributed already). However, the integration of NCs with fabrication tools that employ conditions such as irradiation, etching and annealing is at a very early stage since we do not have a systematic knowledge of what transformations are triggered in the NCs under those conditions. Also, an issue related to the incorporation of NCs in materials/devices is whether, over time, the NCs will remain as they are, or they will transform into other structures. Plus, these transformations in NCs are poorly studied as they require fast recording techniques. This proposal will embark on an ambitious investigation of post-synthetic transformations in solution-grown NCs: by advancing the understanding of various aspects of chemical, structural and surface transformation of NCs, we will uncover new fabrication techniques that will employ such nanostructures as the key ingredients. This in turn will have a strong impact in opto-electronics, as several electronic components entirely made of NCs will be delivered. Four objectives are targeted: i) developing radically new sets of experimental tools for the investigation of chemical transformations in NCs, above all the ability to monitor in real time these transformations; ii) developing solution-grown nanostructures able to undergo programmed transformations under a defined stimulus; iii) understanding the role of irradiation on the fate of surface ligands and on cation exchange reactions in NCs; iv) combining chemical, structural and surface transformations towards NC-based opto-electronics. The success of the proposal hinges on the proven capabilities of the PI, with ample support from the host Institution.

Total budget: 2430720.0€

Total contribution: 2430720.0€


FP7 ERC - Starting Grant 2009-2013

Assembly of Colloidal Nanocrystals into Unconventional Types of Nanocomposite Architectures with Advanced Properties

Abstract: Nanoscience promises innovative solutions in a large variety of sectors, ranging from cost-effective optoelectronic devices to energy generation, and to highly performing materials and interfaces. Realizing this promise will rely heavily on a bottom-up approach. This can only succeed if self assembly of advanced nanoscale building blocks will be developed intensively, to enable creation of useful macroscopic architectures. The unconventional assembly of nanocrystals towards functional materials is the area where this proposal aims at providing a key contribution. This will be achieved via ground-breaking advances in the fabrication of shape controlled nanocrystals, via solution approaches, in their organization following radically new concepts and in the study of their assembly related properties. The bottom line here is to tune the assembly process of nanocrystals so as to generate a desired functionality or a combination of functionalities. This would represent a dramatic leap forward from the trial-and-error approach to controlling the various properties that is currently prevalent in many of the communities working in the field of nanocrystals. The primary motivation of this proposal is therefore to correlate strongly the structural properties with the behaviour of nanostructured assemblies. This is clearly a cutting edge research program, at the frontier of chemistry, physics, materials science and engineering, and whose successful outcome will be of tremendous benefit in several fields.

Total budget: 1299960.0€

Total contribution: 1299960.0€

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