Understanding that fossil fuels are not endless and that their extensive use is causing irreversible climate changes prompted us to realize that we are in urgent need of sustainable energy generation processes, energy vectors, and solutions to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite replacing fossil fuels while maintaining or improving the current standards of living with a growing population is one of the biggest challenges that we have to face, the solution might lie in tiny pieces of matter: nanoparticles. Nanoparticles have been known for a long time but it is only recently that we have been able to better study and control their properties. The advent of nanotechnology and its associated tools allowed indeed to manipulate the composition, size, shape, functionalization and assembly of nanoparticles and to create nanoarchitectures and macroscopic devices with novel properties and unrivaled performance.
In the Cargnello group, uniform and tailored nanoparticles and nanostructures are studied and used for energy and environmental applications, with emphasis on how to precisely control the nanoarchitectures to understand and exploit interactions between well defined building blocks. Applications include hydrogen generation through photocatalysis, reduction of methane emissions, pollution control, solar cells, to cite a few. It is expected that advancements in the preparation and use of these tiny particles can bring immense benefit for making big challenges more approachable.
Active and stable catalysts
We are studying synthetic ways to make catalysts not only more active, but also more selective and more stable by exploiting confinement effects.
We study nanostructures that have a precise sizes or crystallographic structures and use them to answer fundamental questions that will allow us to prepare even better catalytic systems.
We envision materials that can use light as an energy input and transform it into chemical work, so that reactions that would normally require high temperatures could be run more sustainably