Cargnellogroup @ Stanford

We design, synthesize, characterize and test materials for heterogeneous catalysis and photocatalysis. Our focus is on reactions revolving around energy and environmental themes, with emphasis on the chemistry of small building blocks that are at the heart of past, present and future history: hydrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, water, nitrogen.

The starting point for our studies are well-defined nanocrystals and nanostructures, and we tune and tailor their architecture at the atomic level to understand how a specific structure influences the final properties of the system. We prepare and study our materials by using state-of-the-art synthetic and characterization techniques that include colloidal and supramolecular chemistry, advanced microscopy, x-ray-based spectroscopies and functional testing in our ~1600 sq ft brand new lab in the Shriram center and, more in general, using the great facilities located at Stanford and in the nearby SLAC national laboratory.

Our goal is to help the planet transition to a cleaner and sustainable future, where resources are available to a larger part of the population and the economic growth is accompanied by an improvement in the living conditions and in the quality of the environment. We are motivated by big challenges that mankind has to face, and we want to contribute in our own way: using small, tiny particles, or nanocrystals, to speed-up chemical reactions that can provide sustainable fuels and chemicals and reduce pollution.

Each of us in the group has her/his own independent project, yet connected to the bigger picture, like a piece of the puzzle. We believe that only team work, motivation and dedication can indeed advance science and provide us with solutions. If you share our values, join us in this exciting journey!


15 February 2018:
Matteo is nominated a Sloan Fellow by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation! The Fellowship was created in 1955 to recognize early-career excellence in physics, chemistry and mathematics. The award recognizes promising future leaders who have made significant contributions to the field. Matteo and the whole group are recognized for the work in sustainable energy generation processes. More info here

24 January 2018:
Matteo wins the 2018 ERES Junior Award! This award, bestowed every three years to a researcher under 35 years of age, is given to Matteo for his contributions to the development of catalysts based on ceria. Matteo will receive the award during the 10th International Conference on f-Elements in early September in Lausanne, Switzerland, where he will also deliver a keynote lecture. More here

15 January 2018:
We welcome Weixin and Alex as post-doctoral scholars in the group, and Pit as visiting post-doc from Germany! Weixin will be working on catalysts for methane combustion, Alex on nanofabrication of photocatalytic materials, and Pit on hybrid materials for multifunctional catalysis. Welcome to the group!

3 January 2018:
The New Year starts in a great way with our work in collaboration with Jian Qin in our department published in Chemistry of Materials! Liheng led the efforts to describe how in-situ studies can provide us the knowledge to synthesize nanocrystals of a desired size and narrow distributions. Read it here

News Archive


We are in urgent need of sustainable energy generation processes, energy vectors, and solutions to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Active, stable and selective

We are studying synthetic ways to make catalysts not only more active, but also more selective and more stable by exploiting confinement effects in which nanocrystals and active phases are embedded inside 3-dimensional cavities.

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Precise and well-defined

We study nanostructures that have precise sizes and/or structures and use them to answer fundamental questions regarding reaction mechanisms. This fundamental knowledge allows us (and others) to prepare even better catalysts.

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Environmentally friendly

We envision materials that can use light as an energy input to convert compounds and pollutants into valuable chemicals, such that chemical processes could be run sustainably at room temperature and pressure.

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Meet the Team

  Meet the team


CHEMENG 31N: When Chemistry Meets Engineering, Fall 2017
Chemistry and engineering are subjects that are ubiquitous around us. But what happens when the two meet? Students will explore this question by diving into experimental problems that scientists and engineers have to face on a daily basis. Many processes that are taken for granted have been developed by understanding science at a very fundamental level and then applying it to large and important industrial processes. In this seminar, students will explore some of the basic concepts that are important to address chemical engineering problems through experimental work. Students will build materials for energy and environmental applications, understand how to separate mixtures into pure compounds, produce fuels, and will learn to look at the chemical properties of molecules that are part of daily life... with a different eye.

CHEMENG 10: The Chemical Engineering Profession, Fall 2017
Overview of and careers in chemical engineering; opportunities to develop networks with working professionals. Panel discussions on career paths and post-graduation opportunities available. Areas include biotechnology, electronics, energy, environment, management consulting, nanotechnology, and graduate school in business, law, medicine, and engineering.

CHEMENG 345: Fundamentals and Applications of Spectroscopy, Winter 2018
Development of theoretical approaches to spectroscopy, including spectroscopic transitions, transition probabilities, and selection rules. Application to photon and electron spectroscopies of the gas and solid phases. Topics: rotational spectroscopy; infrared and Raman vibrational spectroscopies; fluorescence spectroscopy; Auger, x-ray and ultraviolet photoelectron spectroscopies.

CHEMENG 130: Separation Processes, Spring 2018
Analysis and design of equilibrium and non-equilibrium separation processes. Possible examples: distillation, liquid-liquid extraction, flash distillation, electrophoresis, centrifugation, membrane separations, chromatography, and reaction-assisted separation processes.









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The Cargnellogroup moved into its new lab in January 2016 and started to cook some great science. Stay hungry!