Using In Situ Vibrational Spectroscopy to Probe (Electro)Catalytic Interfaces

The combination of electrochemical methods with molecular spectroscopy can provide valuable information about chemical processes at electrode-electrolyte interfaces. In particular, Raman and infrared spectroscopies have been shown to yield unique mechanistic insights into chemical reactions at electrodes by enabling fingerprinting of surface species via identification of characteristic vibrational modes. These powerful tools therefore find applications in a wide range of disciplines, including the development of electrochemically functional materials for heterogeneous catalysis, sensing, and energy conversion and storage. 

In this talk I will present case studies from NPL that highlight the value of electrochemical vibrational spectroscopies for studying interfacial processes. Examples include the use of in situ Raman and infrared spectroscopy to mechanistically probe the CO tolerance behaviour of fuel cell hydrogen oxidation catalysts and to understand doping effects in electrochemical water splitting catalysts. I will also discuss strategies for improving the sensitivity and surface selectivity of interfacial molecular spectroscopy using plasmonic enhancement phenomena and demonstrate their application to investigating organic reaction mechanisms in heterogeneous catalysis. Finally, I will show how this surface enhancement can be combined with scanning probe microscopy to allow spatially resolved analysis of photo-induced interfacial processes at the nanoscale. 

Click below to watch a recording of the presentation:


Photo of Andy Wain

Andy Wain received his master’s degree in chemistry in 2003 and his doctorate in electrochemistry in 2006, both from the University of Oxford. He then spent two years as a postdoctoral research associate at California State University Los Angeles, where he focused on novel electrochemical approaches to studying bio-molecule modified interfaces. In 2008 Andy moved to the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK, where he now works as a Principal Scientist, leading the development of electrochemical and combined spectroscopic techniques and their application to the fields of interfacial chemistry and catalysis. His research interests include electrochemical energy conversion and storage, nanoelectrochemistry, electrochemical sensing, and heterogeneous catalysis.

Andy has published 60 peer-reviewed papers (h-index: 34), 3 book chapters and an edited book on Nanoscale Electrochemistry. He is a chartered chemist (CChem), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (FRSC), and a Fellow of the Institute of Materials, Minerals & Mining (FIMMM).

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