The electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 into hydrocarbon fuels, like methane or ethylene, is regarded as one of the best methods to address one of the main current environmental issues: reducing the CO2 footprint of our society. However, in order to meet the demands of the energy transition (i.e. reduce the CO2 footprint with 80-95% by 2050), longer hydrocarbon chains with three or more carbon atoms (C>2) have to formed out of CO2.
Our research focuses on the synthesis of colloidal metal electrocatalyst nanoparticles (Fig. 1a) with well-defined sizes and shapes (e.g. nanorods or nanoplatelets) in order to understand and steer the electrocatalytic reaction pathways that govern the formation of C>2 hydrocarbon fuels through efficient C-C coupling. Our main interest lies in unravelling where the reaction takes place by performing in-situ X-ray diffraction and scattering experiments (Fig. 1b), as well as in-situ spectroscopy measurements, to construct structure-performance relationships for the metal electrocatalyst nanoparticles. Colloidal nanomaterials are ideally suited for this purpose, since they can be prepared with atomic precision in solution, which not only allows us to deposit them on various electrodes, but also characterize the size, shape and faceting during the reaction and use these parameters to direct the formation of value-added chemicals, such as C>2 hydrocarbons (Fig. 1c). These in-situ characterization techniques will give valuable fundamental, but also practical insights into the exact reaction mechanism of the CO2 reduction reaction and the (de)activation of the electrocatalyst nanoparticles, which will allow us to rationally design the ultimate electrocatalyst.
Figure 1. (a) Schematic representation of the proposed in-situ electrochemical grazing incidence X-ray scattering and diffraction (GISAXS/GID) cell, in order to study (b) the surface of the active electrocatalyst on the atomic (GID) and nanoparticle scale (GISAXS). During these measurements, the nanoparticle size, shape, orientation and position at the reaction surface can be monitored simultaneously. (c) The obtained information from the in-situ GISAXS/GID measurements will be used to design the ultimate selective nanoparticle electrocatalyst, by tailoring the synergy between the neighboring nanoparticles, and hence, promoting selectivity for a particular hydrocarbon product (e.g. ethylene or C>2 hydrocarbons).
Tenure Track Assistant Professor (June 2019 – Present), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Postdoctoral Researcher (March 2019 – June 2019), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Research topics: Electrocatalytic reduction of CO2 with colloidal metal nanoparticles, under the supervision of prof. dr. ir. Bert M. Weckhuysen
Postdoctoral Researcher (October 2016 – February 2019), Delft University of Technology, The Netherlands
Research topics: Electrochemical doping of semiconductor nanocrystals, (spectro)electrochemistry, ultrafast
spectroscopy, in-situ EXAFS, synthesis of colloidal perovskite nanoplatelets, streak camera measurements, charge transfer and excited state dynamics, transient absorption spectroscopy, under the supervision of dr. Arjan Houtepen and dr. Ferdinand Grozema
PhD student (October 2012 – September 2016), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Thesis entitled: Tailoring on the nanoscale: control over size, shape, composition and self-assembly of copper chalcogenide nanocrystals
Research topics: Nanocrystal synthesis, cation exchange, self-assembled superstructures, optical spectroscopy, in-situ X-ray scattering, Electron Microscopy, under the supervision of dr. Celso de Mello Donegá and prof. dr. Andries Meijerink
MSc Chemistry & Physics (September 2010 – October 2012), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Thesis entitled: Colloidal Nanostructures for Application in Quantum Dot Sensitized Solar Cells, under the supervision of dr. Celso de Mello Donegá
MSc Internship(March 2012 – September 2012), Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genova, Italy
Internship report entitled: Control over different colloidal nanocrystal syntheses; size, shape and properties, under the supervision of prof. dr. Liberato Manna
BSc Chemistry (September 2007 – September 2010), Utrecht University, The Netherlands
Thesis entitled: Quantum Dot Sensitized Solar Cells, under the supervision of dr. Esther Groeneveld and dr. Celso de Mello Donegá
Born in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands 1989
In March 2019, Ward initially started as a postdoc in the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis (ICC) group, but recently, his position was changed into Tenure Track Assistant Professor. He will […]Read more
See earlier publications on Scopus.