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!


22 May 2019:
Jay's contribution, in collaboration with a fantastic team from Denmark, Stanford and Imperial College, to a rigorous protocol to detect ammonia from electrochemical synthesis is now out in Nature! Link

20 May 2019:
CO2 is bad, CH4 is even worse though. Check out what we propose as a potential climate change solution option in this commentary with Stanford colleagues! Link

16 April 2019:
Collaborative work with Tom Jaramillo's group led by Adam Nielander with Jay's help on NMR detection of ammonia is published in ACS Catalysis! Link

11 April 2019:
Pit's work, together with Weixin and Emmett and in collaboration with Wolfgang Schmidt's group at MPI in Mülheim, Germany, on the preparation of libraries of Pd/zeolite catalysts and their performance for methane combustion in the presence of steam is published in ACS Catalysis! Link

11 April 2019:
Larissa's work, in collaboration with Ben Diroll from Argonne National Lab and with contribution from others in the group, on the artificial inflation in photocatalytic systems for hydrogen production and a method to fairly compare heterojunction photocatalysts, is now out in Energy and Environmental Science! Link

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

Meet the Team

  Meet the team


CHEMENG 31N: When Chemistry Meets Engineering, Fall 2018
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 345: Fundamentals and Applications of Spectroscopy, Winter 2019
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 2019
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.









See More


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