New analytical method for nanoparticles developed

Cubes more efficient than spheres

A new study by the group led by Prof. Dr. Kristina Tschulik, head of the Chair of Electrochemistry and Nanoscale Materials at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum, was able to prove that cube-shaped nanoparticles are more efficient than spherical ones. This experimental finding of the Bochum group could be confirmed by the cooperation partners around CENIDE member Prof. Dr. Rossitza Pentcheva from the University of Duisburg-Essen within the framework of the Collaborative Research Center/Transregios 247. This could pave the way for the development of more efficient and cost-effective catalysts for green hydrogen production.

Kristina Tschulik (left) and Hatem Amin are studying nanoparticles as catalysts for green hydrogen.

© RUB, Marquard

Currently, the water splitting process is limited by the lack of efficient, long-lasting and low-cost catalysts. Most active electrocatalysts are based on expensive noble metals such as iridium, ruthenium or platinum. Researchers are studying catalysts in the form of base metal oxide nanoparticles that are a million times smaller than a human hair. These nanoparticles vary in shape, size and chemical composition.

The research group has developed a method to analyze individual particles directly in solution. This allows them to compare the activity of different nanomaterials and thus understand the influence of particle properties such as shape and composition on water splitting. Their results show that cobalt oxide particles in the form of single cubes are more active than spheres, which have multiple facets. “The findings on the relationship between particle shape and activity lay the foundation for the knowledge-based design of suitable catalyst materials and thus for the transformation of our fossil energy and chemical industries toward a circular economy based on renewable energy sources and highly active, long-lived catalysts,” says Kristina Tschulik, head of the Department of Electrochemistry and Nanoscale Materials at Ruhr-Universität Bochum.

The work was funded by the German Research Foundation.

Further information:

Prof. Dr. Rossitza Pentcheva, Tel. 0203 379 2238,

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