BIST Colloquium Series 2020-21: Prof. Raffaella Buonsanti

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Colloidal Chemistry for tunable and controlled electrocatalysts

by Prof. Raffaella Buonsanti of the EPFL (Lausanne, Switzerland)


Tuning the morphology and composition of nanomaterials is key for many applications, spanning from optoeletronics to biology and catalysis. In this talk, I will present our recent group efforts towards the synthesis via colloidal chemistry of atomically defined nanocrystals (NCs) and their use as electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction. First of all, I will focus on our studies of NC nucleation and growth. A fundamental understanding of the formation mechanisms is indeed crucial to rationally approach the design of new and more complex catalytic materials. I will then illustrate how NCs with precisely tunable shapes, sizes and interfaces between different domains can help to identify selectivity rules at the branching nodes which lead to C1 and C2+ reduction products.

Finally, I will discuss the role of NCs as model systems to study degradation pathways using ex-situ and in-situ transmission electron microscopy. These insights are essential when moving towards an actual technological implementation. I will conclude by sharing our latest results which illustrate that the above discussed catalysts are not only model systems but can be implemented in a gas-fed electrolyzer and sustain the same selectivity at technologically relevant conditions with currents up to 300 mA/cm2.


Raffaella Buonsanti is currently a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at EPFL in Switzerland. She studied Chemistry at the University of Bari, then obtained her PhD in Nanochemistry in 2010 working at the National Nanotechnology Laboratory, University of Salento. Then, she moved to the US where she spent three years, first as a postdoc and project scientist at the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Then from 2013 to 2015 she was staff scientist in the Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis (JCAP), always at the LBNL site.

At EPFL she leads a multidisciplinary group which works at the interface of materials chemistry and electrocatalysis; her research focuses on the synthesis of colloidal nanocrystals and their use as tunable electrocatalysts for the conversion of small molecule into value-added chemicals.


Speaker invited by ICIQ

The colloquium is part of the BIST Master of Research curriculum but is also open and free for anyone interested in participating.


Register now
The session will be hosted through Zoom online conference application. If you have not used this platform previously, you will be prompted to download the software to access the meeting (the process is automatic and does not require more than one minute).


Next colloquia will be:


November 2 – Prof. Dr. Oscar Franco of the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine

November 9 – Georgia Theano Papadakis of Stanford University

November 16 – Rogério Rosenfeld of Universidade Estadual Paulista