Electrification is an emerging trend in the global energy system. Some estimate that in a net zero emission world electricity should exceed 50% of final energy use, while it only accounts for 20% of current use. Electrocatalysis is set to play a pivotal role in this energy transition, both for the chemical storage of electricity from renewable resources such as solar and wind, and for the end use of electricity in transportation and chemical industries.
Our group has been developing Earth-abundant electrocatalytic materials for energy conversion and storage. In this talk, I will first summarize our earlier discoveries of several novel catalysts for the water splitting reaction, including notably amorphous molybdenum sulfide for hydrogen evolution and single-layered Ni Fe hydroxide for oxygen evolution.
I will also present our latest research efforts to understand electrocatalytic materials at the molecular level through cooperative, single-atom, or double-atom catalysis. These efforts have resulted in remarkable catalysts in oxygen evolution, carbon dioxide reduction, and hydrogen oxidation reactions.
Xile Hu (胡喜乐) was born in 1978 in a small village in Putian, southeastern China. He studied chemistry at Peking University and obtained a BS degree in June 2000. Shortly thereafter, he moved to the United States and began his doctoral study under the guidance of Prof. Karsten Meyer at the University of California, San Diego.
His dissertation research focused on the coordination chemistry of tripodal N-heterocyclic carbene ligands. After receiving a PhD in inorganic chemistry in December 2004, he became a postdoctoral scholar in the group of Prof. Jonas C. Peters at the California Institute of Technology. At Caltech, he worked on the development of molecular hydrogen evolution catalysts.
In July 2007, he was appointed as a tenure-track assistant professor of chemistry in the Institute of Chemical Sciences and Engineering at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. He was promoted to associate professor in January 2013 and full professor in June 2016.
He is the founder and director of the Laboratory of Inorganic Synthesis and Catalysis. His laboratory is developing catalysts made of earth-abundant elements for chemical transformations pertinent to synthesis, energy, and sustainability.