Project Overview

Developing Novel Electrocatalysts for Challenging Chemical Transformations Related to Renewable Energy Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Gongfang Hu (




Electrocatalysis is a research field studying chemical catalysis mediated by electricity as the source of energy or redox equivalents. Generating from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, water, etc., electricity is considered more "green" and sustainable. Electricity or electrons are also "traceless," generating much less chemical waste than chemical redox reagents. Therefore, studies about electrocatalysis afford both fundamental and applicable progress for chemical sustainability.

Research in the Hu lab encompasses topics in molecular electrocatalysis, including developing new catalysts, reactions, and electrochemical methodologies. We are especially interested in the challenging but rewarding chemical reactions related to chemical sustainability, such as water oxidation to oxygen, the reduction of carbon dioxide to organic compounds, and synthetic organic reactions using electricity. We are currently trying to understand the cost-effective metal elements' role in these molecular electrocatalytic reactions. We will design and synthesize new compounds containing cost-effective metal elements and test their electrocatalytic activities. We will also explore various reaction substrates and electrochemical methods to expand the chemical space that electrocatalysis can contribute. 

Students working on these research projects will experience a broad spectrum of knowledge from renewable energy sciences, chemical catalysis, chemical synthesis, and electrochemistry. Students will be trained in experimental skills, including organic and inorganic synthesis, molecular structural determination and characterization, electrochemical techniques, electrode material preparation, and catalytic analysis.

Student Qualifications

Students must have gotten a grade above C in CHEM 263. Students must have taken CHEM 264 or are taking CHEM 264 in the spring semester. Students must have 2-3 hours per week of research time in the spring of 2023. Students that have taken CHEM 212/214 are preferred. 

Number of Student Researchers

2 students

Project Length

10 weeks

Applications open on 11/03/2022 and close on 02/03/2023

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (