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Thomas F. Jaramillo

Thomas F. Jaramillo

Assitant Professor,
Chemical Engineering

Dept. of Chemical Engineering                                                           
381 North-South Mall, Stauffer III                                                    
Stanford University                                                                            
Stanford, CA 94305-5025 USA                                                       
Office:Keck 259
Phone: 650.498.6879
Fax: 650.725.7294



Research Statement (continued)

Electrocatalysis for Energy Production

In contrast to fuel cells, electrolysis consumes electrical energy in order to produce fuel, for example: H2O ? H2 + 1/2O2, DG = +1.23 eV. This particular case of water-splitting has gained substantial attention as of late as extremely high-purity hydrogen is produced. There is a need for new materials that drive the kinetics of both half-reactions - the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER) and the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) - in order to minimize electrolysis operating voltage. Despite decades of research, both half-reactions are still poorly understood.

CO2 electro-reduction to fuels such as methane, methanol, or formic acid is another reaction of technological importance. If renewable energy is coupled to the reduction of CO2 to C1 fuels, near net-zero CO2 emission could be achieved. Plus, producing a liquid fuel has obvious advantages to H2 as storage and transportation are not problematic. Nevertheless, the surface chemistry of CO2 reduction is difficult as large energy barriers are present compared to proton reduction to H2, a process which generally competes for surface sites.

Photoelectrochemical Energy Conversion
Solar energy is the ultimate form of renewable energy, as the sun deposits 4 orders of magnitude more energy on the earth’s surface than we consume. Photovoltaics coupled to water electrolyzers are one means of solar-derived fuel, however at present, capital costs for both systems prevent this scheme from becoming reality on a large scale. A similar, but more direct approach is to combine both technologies into one photo-electrochemical device: a solar-photon absorbing semiconductor (or combination of semiconductors) whose surfaces are optimized for water reduction and/or oxidation. In this project, new materials and architectures will be investigated with the aim of developing systems with appropriate semiconductor properties for light absorption, electron-hole energies, and charge transport, with surface properties tailored for stability and electrocatalytic activity.

Research projects

  1. Nanoparticulate catalysts for fuel cell cathodes.
  2. Poison tolerant catalyst surfaces for fuel cell anodes.
  3. Water electrolysis and reversible fuel cells.
  4. CO2 electro-reduction chemistry.
  5. New materials for semiconductor photoelectrochemistry.


Current Students and Researchers

Ph.D. Students – Undergraduate Institutions

  • Desmond Ng - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Linsey Christine Seitz - Michigan State University
  • Jesse Daniel Benck - Northwestern University
  • Etosha Cave - Olin College
  • Blaise Anne Pinaud - University of Waterloo
  • David Nicholas Abram - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Benjamin Nicholas Reinecke - Rutgers University
  • Kendra Pannell Kuhl – University of Montana, Missoula
  • Yelena Gorlin – Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Zhebo Chen – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
  • Ariel Jackson - Rutgers University

Postdoctoral Researchers – Doctoral Institutions

  • Dr. Arnold Joseph Forman

Undergraduate Researchers

  • Jared O'Leary