Research Highlights

CharFac will be featuring research highlights in our newly revamped newsletter (first issue Fall 2023). The research highlights will be archived below. 

Tzia Ming Onn

Tzia Ming Onn photo

My research motivation is to address sustainability-related issues. Our current approach in CEMS combines technologies used in electronics with heterogeneous catalysis to describe a platform known as the graphene catalytic condenser or catalytic capacitor. 

This solid-state model system relies on the condensation of charge in the catalyst. Because electrons participate directly in chemical transformation, charges condensed in the catalytic sites affect activity as evident in our recent work involving amorphous semiconductor alumina and platinum nanoclusters. This has led to the establishment of the Center for Programmable Energy Catalysis or CPEC, a DOE funded EFRC center at UMN, and the Characterization facility (CharFac) has been and will continue to be a major pillar of support for our work. 

Our recent work has undergone comprehensive characterization owing to the ease of access and training provided by CharFac to high quality equipment such as microscopes (TEM, SEM, STM, Confocal Raman, etc.), spectrometers (XPS, UPS, etc.), diffractometer (XRD), and more. I cannot overstate how important the CharFac experts have been with regards to tackling specific problems related to characterizing our catalytic condenser materials (which is not trivial), processing and handling samples, and setting up customized parts for better characterization in the future. With electron/photon-driven catalytic approaches becoming more recognized as a disruptive force in reducing our society’s dependence on fossil resources, the in-situ characterization of charged materials will become more and more necessary. I am fortunate that CharFac has the facilities and expertise to enable more high-quality work in the near future for UMN.