Bussell Research Group

My research interests are in surface and materials chemistry, with an emphasis on the development of earth abundant catalysts for renewable energy and other industrial applications.

Development of New Catalytic Materials based on Metal Phosphides

Recent research in my group has focused on the synthesis, characterization and  evaluation of oxide-supported monometallic and bimetallic phosphide catalysts for use in photocatalytic CO2 hydrogenation and the selective hydrogenation of alkynes (to alkenes).  A previous focus of research in the Bussell Group was the hydrotreating (heteratom removal) properties of metal carbide, nitride and phosphide catalysts. Shown below is a structural model of Ni2P -- Ni atoms (pink spheres) and P atoms (green spheres) -- as well as transmission electron micrographs of a Ni2P/ASA catalyst.  Ni2P exhibits properties similar to noble metals for a number of catalytic reactions.


Ni2P structural model and TEM micrographs of a Ni2P/ASA catalyst


Research Opportunities

Students working in my laboratory gain experience in a number of different areas of materials and surface chemistry. Catalysts are synthesized in a flow synthesis apparatus and are characterized by the different techniques listed below, all of which are available at WWU.

  • Catalyst / Materials synthesis
  • Powder X-ray diffraction (XRD)
  • BET surface area measurements
  • Pulsed chemisorption measurements (CO, CO2, H2,O2)
  • X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS)
  • Field emission - scanning electron microscopy (FE-SEM
  • Inductively coupled plasma - mass spectrometry (ICP-MS)
  • Photoluminescence spectroscopy (PL)
  • Raman spectroscopy
  • Temperature-programmed reduction with mass spectral detection (TPR-MS)
  • Temperature-programmed desorption (TPD)

Additional catalyst characterization studies are carried out off-site and include transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and other techniques.

Catalytic activities are measured in flow reactor and photocatalytic reactor systems at WWU.   Schematic diagrams and photographs of the reactors are shown below.

High pressure and photocatalytic reactors