Advanced Nanomaterials for Clean Energy GroupWestern Engineering

Fuel Cells

Polymer electrolyte membrane fuel cells (PEMFCs), which can efficiently convert chemical energy into electricity through electrochemical reactions, are considered promising alternative power sources for transportation and portable applications due to their high efficiency, low temperature operation, and zero emissions. However, high cost and insufficient durability are considerable challenges for widespread adoption of PEMFCs in practical applications. Current PEMFCs catalysts have been identified as major contributors to both the high cost and limited durability.


In our group, we focus on designing novel nanostructured materials via atomic layer deposition (ALD) at atomic level to achieve highly active, low cost, and highly stable catalysts for accelerating the process of wide-spread fuel cell commercialization. We also study mechanisms of high performance catalytic systems which will provide us a new insight for industrial catalyst design.

Highlighted Publications:


  1. Cheng, Y. Shao, J. Liu and X. Sun,Electrocatalysts by Atomic Layer Deposition for Fuel Cell Applications. Nano Energy 29 (2016) 220-242. (Invited review)
  2. Cheng, S. Stambula, D. Wang, M. Banis, J. Liu, A. Riese, B. Xiao, R. Li, T.-K. Sham,L. Liu, G. Botton and X. Sun, Platinum Single-atom and Cluster Catalysis of the Hydrogen Evolution Reaction. Nat. Commun., 7 (2016) 13638.
  3. Cheng, M. Banis, J. Liu, A. Riese, X. Li, R. Li S. Ye, S. Knights and X. Sun, Extremely stable platinum nanoparticles encapsulated in zirconia nanocages by area-selective atomic layer deposition for oxygen reduction reaction. Adv. Mater., 27 2 (2015) 277.
  4. Cheng, M. Banis, J. Liu, A. Riese, S. Mu, R. Li, T.-K. Sham and X. Sun,Atomic scale enhancement of metal-support interactions between Pt and ZrC for highly stable electrocatalysts. Energy Environ. Sci. 8 (2015) 1450.
  5. Banis, S. Sun, X. Meng, Y. Zhang, Z. Wang, R. Li, M. Cai, T.-K. Sham, X. Sun,TiSi2Ox Coated N-doped Carbon Nanotubes for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction in Proton Exchange Membrane Fuel Cells. J. Phys. Chem. C 117 (2013) 15457-15467.
  6. Sun , G. Zhang, N. Gauquelin, N. Chen, J. Zhou, S. Yang, W. Chen, X. Meng, D. Geng, M. Banis, R. Li, S. Ye, S. Knights, G. Botton, T.-K. Sham, X. Sun,Single-atom Catalysis Using Pt/Graphene Achieved through Atomic Layer Deposition. Scientific Reports 3 (2013) 1775.
  7. Sun, G. Zhang, D. Geng, Y. Chen, R. Li, M. Cai, X. Sun,A New Highly Durable Pt Nanocatalyst for PEM Fuel Cells: the Multiarmed Star-like Nanowire Single Crystal. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 50 (2011) 422-426. (VIP Paper & Cover Page, Highlighted by "Nature Nanotechnology" 
  8. Geng, Y. Chen, Y. Chen, Y. Li, R. Li, X. Sun, S. Ye, S. Knights,High Oxygen-Reduction Activity and Durability of Nitrogen-doped Graphene. Energy Environ. Sci. 4 (2011) 760-764.  (Highlighted by "Materials Today", ten most downloaded articles in Feb. 2011)
  9. Zhang, S. Sun, M. Cai, Y. Zhang, R. Li, X. Sun,Porous Dendritic Platinum Nanotubes with Extremely High Activity and Stability for Oxygen Reduction Reaction. Scientific Reports 3 (2013) 1526.