The Ye-lab synthesizes functional materials, with a particular interest in the purview of energy. The research topics include the rational design of catalysts that reduce the reaction barriers and improve the energy conversion efficiency, and the development of new methodologies for materials synthesis that simplify the manufacturing process and reduce the cost without compromising the functions.
1. Catalysis (updated in Dec 2018)
The development of renewable energy abounds with worldwide research effort. Chemical bonds present as powerful intermediates for the storage and relaxation of excess energy from intermittent sources such as wind and solar. In pursuit of high energy conversion efficiency, the development of catalysts minimizing the energy barriers is essential. Our lab seeks active electrocatalysts for the synthesis of valuable fuels and chemicals with renewable energy as the driving force. This includes water splitting, CO2 reduction and chemical commodities production (i.e. Adv. Mater. 2016, 28, 1427-1432; Adv. Mater. 2017, 29, 1702211; ACS Energy Lett. 2018, 3, 1381-1386). For the relaxation of energy, we aim at developing earth-abundant materials as substituents for the scarce and expensive platinum catalyst in fuel cell technology. This includes alcohol oxidation and oxygen reduction reactions (i.e. ACS Nano 2015 9, 9244-9251; ACS Nano 2014 8, 10837-10843; Carbon 2018, 132, 623-631).
In the Ye-lab, we not only are interested in improving the catalytic performance, but also emphasize the mechanistic understanding of the reactions. We use advanced instrumentation such as STEM, XANES, and in situ spectroscopic to understand the catalyst structure and reaction interfaces, and rationalize the mechanism with first principle calculation.