Understanding that fossil fuels are limited and that their extensive use is causing irreversible climate change prompted us to realize that we are in urgent need of sustainable energy generation processes, energy vectors, and solutions to reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Despite continous replacement of fossil fuels, maintaining or improving the current standards of living with a growing population is one of the biggest challenges that we face, and the solution might lie in tiny pieces of matter: nanoparticles.
Nanoparticles have been known for a long time, but it is only recently that we have been able to better study and control their properties. The emergence of nanotechnology and its associated tools has enabled the manipulation of nanoparticles in terms of composition, size, shape, functionalization, and assembly. This manipulation facilitates the creation of nanoarchitectures and macroscopic devices characterized by unprecedented properties and unmatched performance.
In the Cargnello group, uniform and tailored nanoparticles and nanostructures are synthesized, studied, and used for energy and environmental applications, with emphasis on how to precisely control nanoarchitectures to understand and exploit interactions between well-defined building blocks. Applications include: hydrogen generation through photocatalysis, reduction of methane emissions, conversion of CH4 and CO2 into fuels and chemicals, reduction of nitrogen to ammonia, pollution control, biomass conversion, carbon capture and utilization. It is expected that advancements in the preparation and use of these tiny particles can bring immense benefit in making big challenges more approachable.