Section: Young Investigator Program

Tuning the ORR Electrocatalytic Activity via Controllably Induced Strain

With Joaquin Rodriguez-López (Abruña) and Manuel Plaza (Brock), proposed is a novel approach consisting on the use of a piezoelectric platform on which thin epitaxial layers of Pt and Ru will be grown and strained in order to manipulate their electrocatalytic properties towards the Oxygen Reduction Reaction.

We anticipate the applied strain will impact the electronic structure of the metal by modifying the width and position of its dband. Low-frequency electrochemical measurements will be performed using traditional methods as well as applying Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy. We will correlate the changes in electrochemical activity with those on the electronic and crystal structure. Computer modelling will be performed in collaboration with leading experts on first principles studies of reactivity on catalyst surfaces. The knowledge obtained will be helpful in establishing design principles in the search for highly active catalysts to replace platinum.