Project summary:
Development of novel photo(electro)catalysts for conversion of green-house gas CO2
is crucial to reach sustainable approach in carbon economy. Different materials have been studied; however, recent attention has turned to low-dimensional materials and improvement of their activity via enhancing the mass transfer and using metal nanoparticles as cocatalysts.

Three classes of materials will be studied in this project proposal: oxide semiconductors (e.g., Cu2O, CuO, NiO, TiO2), zeolites, and transition-metal carbides (MXenes). 

1) Oxide semiconductors are widely studied materials for photocatalytic conversion of CO2, nevertheless, their activity has not reached a level required for industrial application. There is still a lot of space for improvement via different strategies[1]. In this project we aim incorporation of metal nanoparticles as cocatalysts. 

2) Zeolites are crystalline microporous aluminosilicates, which can be prepared also as titanosilicates in aluminium-free form. They can be prepared as three-dimensional materials as well as two-dimensional (2D) multilayered materials. The activity of 2D micro-mesoporous titanosilicate zeolites in CO2 photoconversion was confirmed in a previous study of our group[2]. The catalytic activity was related to materials´ morphology and titanium species distribution over the crystals. The follow-up research focuses on enhancing the mass transfer of reactants and products using micro-mesoporous zeolites and introduction of metal nanoparticles as cocatalysts. 

3) Transition-metal carbides (MXenes) are a new class of two-dimensional materials[3]. In first studies of photocatalytic reduction of CO2 MXenes revealed a potential to work well as photocatalyst and support for cocatalyst[4]. But as-prepared multilayered MXenes have a very low surface area. To enhance their catalytic performance, we target to improve their textural properties and thus support the mass transfer of reactants and products to/from a cocatalyst. 

For the proposed project we are looking for motivated students with experience in material chemistry and photo or electrocatalysis. We offer 4-years Ph.D. student position in an international group of scientists across multiple disciplines. Our group has a rich collaboration with international partners and industrial partners. We organize international conferences and workshops. Our PhD students regularly attend both international and national conferences.

Fig. 1: SEM image of different forms of titanosilicates TS-1-C (a), TS-1-V (b), lam-TS-1 (c) showing the difference in their crystal morphology (on the left). Comparison of methane yields after 8 h of photoreduction under CO2 atmosphere (on the right), TiO2 P25 is commercial catalyst[2].

Relevant publications:

[1] N. Shehzad, M. Tahir, K. Johari, T. Murugesan and M. Hussain, Journal of CO2 Utilization 2018, 26, 98-122.

[2] B. T. Barrocas, J. Přech, M. Filip Edelmannová, E. Szaniawska, K. Kočí and J. Čejka, Applied Materials Today 2022, 26, 101392.

[3] A. VahidMohammadi, J. Rosen and Y. Gogotsi, Science 2021, 372, eabf1581.

[4] Y. Chen, C. Liu, S. Guo, T. Mu, L. Wei and Y. Lu, Green Energy & Environment 2022, 7, 394-410.

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