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Faculty of Biology, Chemistry & Earth Sciences

Colloidal Systems: Juniorprofessor Dr. Anna Schenk

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Structure-property relationships in mesostructured transition metal oxides

Spinel-type Co3O4 finds applications in a wide range of technological fields, including gas sensing and clean energy conversion, where nanostructured Co3O4 may provide a cost-efficient alternative to Pt- and Ir-based catalysts for electrocatalytic water-splitting.

The performance of Co3O4 as an electrocatalyst has previously been shown to depend on structural parameters including the surface area, size and morphology of the particles. To compare oxide mesostructures prepared according to different protocols with respect to their catalytic activity, we measure the overpotential towards the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). For this purpose, the materials are immobilized on a rotating disc electrode (Figure 1). 

We have recently demonstrated that Co3O4 obtained by calcination of ammonia diffusion-grown precursors in both, the absence or presence of structure-directing tobacco mosaic virus particles (TMV) shows a significantly lower overpotential towards the OER than a commercial nanopowder that consists of particles with irregular shapes (Figure 2). 

Our future research in this area will expand on studying the electroctalytic performance of a wider range of structures and materials and we are currently exploring a variety of synthetic approaches for the preparation of primary transition metal oxide nanoparticles.

Our work on metal oxide nanoparticle synthesis and assembly is supported by SFB 840.

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