Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

About the Lab

Catalytic Materials and Process Laboratory

My main research interests have focused on investigating novel concepts of catalytic materials for applications in renewable and environmentally friendly energy fields. First, we would like to understand the heterogeneous catalysts fundamentally by using shape or composition-controlled nanoparticles as model systems. The catalysts with different shapes have distinct surface property enabling modulation in catalytic activity and selectivity. For example, we found that Pt nanodendrites with stronger comprehensive strain between surface Pt atoms have enhanced mass activity for oxygen reduction reaction. Pt nanoparticles with (100) or (111) facets showed different selectivity for various hydrogenations. Pd nanoparticles with (100) facets showed enhanced selectivity to ethylene for acetylene hydrogenation due to weaker adsorption of reactants. Additionally, when Pt nanocubes were decorated with Pd, or when Pt atoms are atomically dispersed on Au nanooctahedra, they showed minimized coking and exceptionally high activity for formic acid oxidation. These nanostructured catalysts would be helped by single crystalline surface or density functional theory (DFT) studies to enhance the fundamental understanding of surface reactions. Second, we have been trying to use these nanostructured catalysts for the applications in fuel cells, biomass conversion, methane conversion, etc. Considering a high price of precious metal catalysts, we are currently actively developing low cost alternative catalysts mainly using Ni or Cu materials. Highly carbon-tolerant Ni catalysts have been developed for dry reforming of methane. Acid catalysts based on carbon or solid superacid materials have been also developed to convert cellulose to sorbitol or glycerol to 1,3-propanediol. Our research about the design and applications of nanostructured catalysts would contribute to reset the chemical industry into more sustainable direction.


§  Fundamental understanding of heterogeneous catalysts for surface reactions

- Design various shapes and compositions for metal and metal oxide materials  

- Investigate the interaction between catalytically active phase and support materials to maximize activity and durability


Example 1: Pt cubes were directly overgrown on carbon support by initiating nucleation on the carbon and controlling overgrowth step by using anchoring agents. These Pt cubes showed enhanced activity for oxygen reduction reaction in sulfuric acid media due to (100) facets (paper #43)


§  Catalyst development for sustainable energy generation

- Pt minimization (mainly for fuel cell reactions)  

- Biomass conversion (producing valuable chemicals from biomass-derived sources)  

- Methane conversion (focusing on durability issues)  

- Photo-catalysts (developing novel concepts of plasmonic catalysts)


Example 2: Atomically dispersed Pt on shaped Au nanocrystals presented two orders of magnitude higher activity for formic acid oxidation (paper #52)



Hyunjoo Lee (이현주)
Associate Professor

Office Phone: +82-42-350-3922
Fax: +82-42-350-3910





ProfessorHyunjoo Lee


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