Jiao Group

Recent News

2017-10-10: Solar-powered CO2 electrolyzer!

A first-of-its-kind solar CO2 flow cell electrolyzer is reported here with a solar-to-fuel efficiency (SFE) of 6.5% at high operating currents (>1 A), orders of magnitude greater than those of other reported solar-driven devices that typically operate at currents of a few milliamperes. The approach of solar module-driven electrolysis, compared to monolithic photoelectrochemical cells, allows simpler manufacture, use of commercially available components, and optimization of the power transfer between the photovoltaic and the electrochemical systems. Employing commercial high-efficiency crystalline silicon solar cells with a large area flow cell CO2 electrolyzer (25 cm2), we present a procedure for optimizing the SFE of a decoupled photovoltaic electrolyzer by impedance matching the source and the load using their independent current–voltage characteristics. The importance of the voltage-dependent Faradaic efficiency of the electrolyzer on device performance and optimization is highlighted. The results have been published in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

2017-08-07: Perspective Article in ACS Catalysis - Nanoporous Metals as Electrocatalysts: State-of-the-Art, Opportunities, and Challenges

Nanoporous metals with their distinct three-dimensional interconnected porous networks are promising materials as electrocatalysts for fundamental studies and practical applications because they have highly conductive self-supporting porous structures with large electrochemical surface areas. This Perspective provides an overview of the recent developments and state-of-the-art nanoporous metals as electrocatalysts for various important electrochemical systems. Potential strategies and opportunities for utilizing the unique characteristics of nanoporous metals to overcome typical problems faced in electrocatalysis are presented. Lastly, challenges regarding the synthesis of nanoporous metals with controlled porous structure and targeted surface catalytic sites are also discussed to stimulate new ideas and interests for nanoporous metallic electrocatalysts.

2017-05-06: Charles won the 2017 Chemical Engineering Industrial Sponsors Undergraduate Research Award!

Congratulations to Charles for winning the Chemical Engineering Industrial Sponsors Undergraduate Research Award to recognize his research achievement in renewable chemical productions. The award was presented at the 2017 College Recognition of Academic Honors & Achievements Ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at Mitchell Hall.

2017-04-11: Wesley wins the 2017 Bill N. Baron Fellowship Award!

Congratulations to Wesley for winning the 2017 Bill N. Baron Fellowship Award for his contribution to the solar energy field. The award will be the presented at 2017 College Recognition of Academic Honors & Achievements Ceremony on Saturday, May 6, 2017 at Mitchell Hall.

2017-04-10: Nanoporous catalysts for biomass conversion


By finding new catalysts for selective and efficient conversion of biomass-derived products to industrially relevant chemicals and fuels, a transition from fossil fuel feedstocks may be achieved. Furfural is a platform chemical which may be converted to multiple heterocyclic and ring-opening products, but to date there have been few catalysts which enable selective hydrodeoxygenation to 2-methylfuran. In this work, we present a self-supported nanoporous Cu–Al–Co ternary alloy catalyst with high furfural hydrodeoxygenation activity toward 2-methylfuran, achieving up to 66.0% selectivity and 98.2% overall conversion at 513K with only 5% Co composition. The results have been published in Industrial & Engineering Chemistry Research.

2017-03-02: Wesley wins the Kokes Award!

Congratulations to Wesley for winning the 2017 Kokes Award for the 25th North American Catalysis Society (NACS) meeting in Denver, CO.

2017-02-24: Turning carbon dioxide into alcohols

Our group is receiving a grant from the US Department of Energy to develop a technology, which allows us to convert CO2 captured in the flue gas into high-value alcohols. So excited! A news story about this grant was just released by UDaily and the official DOE announcement can be found here.

2017-02-17: Spectroscopic study of electrochemical CO2 reduction on gold


Molecular level understanding of the role of bicarbonate in increasing CO2 reduction rates is an important topic, while the lack of in-situ tools make it difficult to directly probe the electrochemical interface. Together with the Xu lab and other collaborators, we developed a protocol to observe normally invisible reaction intermediates with a surface enhanced spectroscopy by applying square-wave potential profiles. Further, we demonstrate that bicarbonate, through equilibrium exchange with dissolved CO2, rather than the supplied CO2, is the primary source of carbon in the CO formed at the Au electrode by a combination of in-situ spectroscopic, isotopic labeling, and mass spectroscopic investigations. We propose that bicarbonate enhances the rate of CO production on Au by increasing the effective concentration of dissolved CO2 near the electrode surface through rapid equilibrium between bicarbonate and dissolved CO2. The results have been published in JACS.

2017-02-17: Wesley wins the University Doctoral Fellowship Award

Congratuations to Wesley for winning the University Doctoral Fellowship Award! Well done!

2017-01-19: A bimetallic catalyst for electrochemical CO2 reduction to formate


First-row transition metals are potential candidates as catalysts for electrochemical CO2 reduction; however, their high oxygen affinity makes them easy to be oxidized, which could, in turn, strongly affect the catalytic properties of metal-based catalysts. Together with collaborators at Northwestern University and Virginia Tech, we recently proposed a strategy to synthesize Ag-Sn electrocatalysts with a core-shell nanostructure that contains a bimetallic core responsible for high electronic conductivity and an ultra-thin partially oxidized shell for catalytic CO2 conversion. This concept was demonstrated by a series of Ag-Sn bimetallic electrocatalysts. At an optimal SnOx shell thickness of ~1.7 nm, the catalyst exhibited a high formate Faradaic efficiency of ~80% and a formate partial current density of ~16 mA cm-2 at -0.8 V vs. RHE, a remarkable performance in comparison to state-of-the-art formate-selective CO2 reduction catalysts. The results have been published in JACS.

2016-11-07: New Group Member: Emily Jeng

We are happy to announce that Emily Jeng is going to join us beginning in January 2017. Emily, welcome to the Jiao group!

2016-09-06: Photoelectrochemical carbon dioxide reduction using a nanoporous Ag cathode


Solar fuel production from abundant sources using photoelectrochemical (PEC) systems is an attractive approach to address the challenges associated with the intermittence of solar energy. In comparison to electrochemical systems, PEC cells directly utilize solar energy as the energy input, and if necessary, an additional external bias can be applied to drive the desired reaction. In our recent work, a PEC cell composing of a Ni-coated Si photoanode and a nanoporous Ag cathode was developed for CO2 conversion to CO. The thin Ni layer not only protected the Si wafer from photo-corrosion, but also served as the oxygen evolution catalyst. At an external bias of 2.0 V, the PEC cell delivered a current density of 10 mA cm-2 with a CO Faradaic efficiency of ~70%. More importantly, a stable performance up to 3 hours was achieved under photoelectrolysis conditions, which is among the best literature reported performances for PEC CO2 reduction cells. The photovoltage of the PEC cell was estimated to be ~0.4V, which corresponded to a 17% energy saving by solar energy utilization.

Link: News Archive