Electrocatalysts are an important element in electrochemical energy conversion. Pt based catalysts for fuel cells and DSA-type electrodes for electrolysis are some examples.
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Fuel Cell Electrocatalysts
Fuel cells operating on hydrogen or methanol fuel are emerging as envirnomentally benign power sources. One of the essential element in a fuel cell is the electrocatalyst for fuel oxidation and hydrogen redution. We are presently involved in the preparation of highly active Pt-based electrocatalysts and the fundamental understanding of electrocatalysis.

A typical scanning electron
micrograph of a carbon supported platinum-ruthenium (PtRu/C) electrocatalyst for DMFC anode.
Electrocatalysts for Electrolysis
Electrocatalysts are an important aspect in electrolysis in aqueous electrolytes for gas evolution including hydrogen, oxygen, and chlorine. It is essential that the catalyst layer has dimensional stability for long service life and low overpotential for high efficiency. We are presently involved in the fundamental study of such electrocatalysts.

A typical scanning electron
micrograph of a RuO2-IrO2-TiO2/Ti
DSA (DimensionallyStable Anode).

An electrochemical supercapacitor, also known as supercapacitor or ultracapacitor, is an energy storage device that can charge/discharge at extremely high speed (much faster than conventional batteries) with high capacity (much higher than conventional capacitors) and can be recharged almost eternally (over 10,000 times). Such devices find use in environmentally bengin transportation such as hybrid vehicles, EV and HEV, as well as portable devices such as PDA, notebook computers, cell phones, and much more. Present R&D is concentrated on the improvement in the energy and power density (how much and how fast the device can store energy) of the device. We are presently developing new electrode materials based on oxides that can fullfill the requirements of the next generation power sources.
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Nanoparticulate Oxides
@Electrochemical supercapacitors using oxide electrodes with aqueous electrolytes (often called pseudocapacitors or redox capacitors) are capable of providing high capacitance (2-10 times higher than carbon electrodes) at high rate. Naturally, the development of advanced oxide electrodes is one of the key technologies that must be achieved. It is necessary to improve the activity and increase the cost-performance of the oxide electrodes for commercialization fo such devices. Approaches to accomplish this is to synthesize nanoparticles, especially hydrous nanoparticles) or binary oxides. We are presently working to find new highly active oxide electrodes and functional 'value-added' supercapacitors.

A typical high resolution FE-SEM image of 10 nm RuO2 nanoparticles.
Nanostructured Ruthenium Oxides (Layered Ruthenium Oxide, Ruthenium Oxide Nansheets)
Ruthenium oxide is presently the best material for pseudocapacitors in terms of the energy and power density. However, due to the scarcity and cost of precious metals, it is essential the the active surface area of the material is increased and that the usage of the precious metal is decreased.
This can be achived by nanostructured design of oxides, for example layered oxides and oxide nanosheets. By using a layered oxide, one can use the interlayer of the bulk material for charge storage, leading to an increase in the active surface area. Another method is to prepare nanosheets, which in a sense can be taken as a ulitamate case of two-dimensional nanostructure. We are presently engaded in the fundamental study of the supercapacitve behavior of oxide electrodes, preparation of novel nanostructured oxides, and the development of functional 'value-added' supercapacitors.

A typical high resolution TEM image of a layered ruthenium oxide.