This program explores the influence of nanoscale domains on electron- and charge-transfer reactions and on transport properties. We focus on the synthesis and characterization of nanostructured materials and composites as coupled to their application as new materials in catalytic chemistries, energy storage and conversion (fuel cells, electrochemical capacitors, batteries, thermoelectric devices, photovoltaics), magnetic materials, biofunctional nanoarchitectures, and sensors. The obverse of this research philosophy requires that we understand the real surfaces that control the properties of technological materials. With such understanding, we design nanostructured materials to exhibit new chemistries or optimize old and do so while withstanding real reaction rates: e.g., the turnover frequencies of a catalytic reaction or the current densities necessary in a fuel cell.
We currently study four classes of materials with nanoscale features:
(1) aerogels and composite aerogels
(2) biomolecular-inorganic hybrids with electron-transfer proteins
(3) nanoscale electrocatalysts and charge-insertion materials
(4) magnetic nanoarchitectures.