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Interfacial chemistry and catalysis

Supporting the design of efficient, cheap and sustainable catalyst and electrode materials

We develop state-of-the-art materials characterisation and imaging techniques to study the properties of solid-liquid interface properties.

Solid-liquid interfaces are critical to emerging and evolving technologies such as green energy conversion, carbon-neutral energy storage, and sustainable chemicals production. Within these sectors there is an ever-growing need to make environmental and economic advances through catalyst and electrode materials with improved efficiency and reaction selectivity, as well as to reduce our dependence on expensive, toxic or scarce materials.

Rational materials design and optimisation relies upon an intimate understanding of 'structure-activity' relationships. In particular, our ability to identify active sites at reacting catalyst surfaces is key to the development of new catalytic materials with tailored properties. Due to the spatially heterogeneous and dynamic nature of interfacial reactions, there is a recognised need for localised measurement and characterisation under the relevant reaction conditions: so-called operando measurement. Our goal is a holistic understanding of catalyst and electrode materials behaviour through bulk and local measurements of structure, electrochemistry and catalytic activity.

Our capability finds diverse application in hydrogen fuel cells and electrolysers, heterogeneous catalysis, batteries, corrosion, and sensing. In addition to conventional electroanalytical measurements, we are expert in more advanced techniques such as: scanning electrochemical microscopy (SECM) to measure the distribution of electroactivity across a surface; infrared and Raman spectroscopy to investigate electrochemically induced changes; and in situ and optical near-field spectroscopy for characterising surface chemistry with nanoscale spatial resolution.

Highlights of our recent research include:

Through close engagement with industry and academia, we undertake collaborative projects funded by Innovate UK and Horizon 2020. Recent and current projects include:

Find out more about NPL's Electrochemical characterisation, consultancy and modelling services

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Supporting rational catalyst design for hydrogen energy applications


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Our research and measurement solutions support innovation and product development. We work with companies to deliver business advantage and commercial success.
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