The research activity in Prof. Mukerjee’s group is an interdisciplinary approach encompassing the areas of solid state chemistry, spectroscopy, and electrochemistry of electrode materials for electrochemical energy conversion and storage. The current focus is targeted towards technologies for proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells and for batteries, these encompass electrocatalysis of oxygen reduction, CO tolerance and methanol oxidation reactions, elevated temperature polymer electrolyte membranes, advanced rechargeable batteries with nickel metal hydrides and lithium insertion electrodes for lithium ion and lithium polymer batteries.
The emphasis is to develop new novel electrode materials for both electrocatalysis as well as intercalation and to investigate mechanisms of electrode processes using advanced synchrotron based in situ techniques. The synchrotron based spectroscopic technique of X-ray absorption spectroscopy (XAS) offers unique insights into electrode processes by providing simultaneous electronic and structural information of the electrode materials under actual in situ cell operating conditions. XAS with its element specificity and ability to probe changes in the chemical (oxidation state, corrosion etc.) and the short-range atomic order is especially relevant due to applicability to complex nano-crystalline and amorphous systems. This electrode substrate information is complimented by use of synchrotron based in situ X-ray diffraction (XRD) and IR spectroscopy, both possessing advantages of higher resolution and, in the case of IR spectroscopy, the ability to measure in the far infrared, thus extending the scope and quality of these measurements.