Research Fellows Directory
Dr Richard Hobbs
Trinity College Dublin
My research concerns the use of state-of-the-art patterning techniques to controllably fabricate structures having dimensions on the nanometer length scale (one billionth of a meter) and the use of advanced electron microscopy techniques to study energy conversion processes on the surface of these structures. This research will aid the development of new catalyst materials that can provide access to new chemical reaction pathways or allow catalysts to function at lower temperatures and pressures than currently possible.
Light-activated catalysts or photocatalysts, offer an attractive route to chemical transformations that is potentially more sustainable than conventional high-temperature catalytic systems. For example, metal nanoparticle photocatalaysts can exhibit localised surface plasmon resonances (LSPRs) meaning that they can behave like antennas for light resulting in locally enhanced light-matter interactions in regions known as plasmonic hot-spots. These hot-spots can act as localised centres for chemistry on the nanoscale where chemical reactions are driven by charge transfer and locally enhanced optical intensity and heating.
Recent developments in electron microscopy hardware mean that electron beams can now be focused to spot sizes narrower than a chemical bond and as such may be used to map plasmonic hotspots with unprecedented spatial resolution. Mapping energy transfer on length scales comparable to chemical bonds is a really exciting prospect and will help us to see how and where light is converted to chemical and electrical energy in materials, thus allowing us to develop efficient devices to harvest energy from light.
Interests and expertise (Subject groups)