Research Interests

1. Artificial Photosynthesis

By mimicking nature's strategy crafted by evolution, we are trying to develop a new way to design and synthesize functional materials, especially for energy storage and conversion devices. For example, plants can produce sugars and biological fuels with sustainable resources, such as water, CO2, and sunlight. It is well-known that spatiotemporal arrangement of light-harvesting chlorophyll dyes and redox enzymes allows efficient harvesting and utilization of sunlight for photosynthesis. Such arrangement allows and facilitates a series of photoelectrochemical processes including (1) generation of photogenerated excitons, (2) dissociation of excitons, (3) transport of charge carriers to reaction centers, and (4) electrocatalytic transformation of raw materials to useful chemical compounds.

Inspired by the underlying principles of natural photosynthesis, we are trying to design and fabricate efficient and stable solar-to-chemical energy conversion (i.e., artificial photosynthesis) devices for the sustainable solar production of chemicals (e.g., hydrogen and hydrocarbons). 

By rationally designing and assembling multiple functional components, the performance of artificial photosynthetic devices can be significantly improved.

We are currently interested in the following topics:

(1) Design and fabrication of modular photosynthetic devices

(2) Bias-free photoelectrochemical water splitting

(3) Solar hydrogen production

(4) Photoconversion of CO2 into value-added chemicals

(5) Enzyme-coupled photoelectrochemical devices

(6) Nano- and micro-structured semiconducting materials for    
     photoelectrochemical devices

(7) Nanobio hybrid materials for efficient light-harvesting.

Related recent publications

- Adv. Funct. Mater. 2020, 30, 1908492. (link)

- Adv. Funct. Mater. 2019, 29, 1906407. (link)
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2019, 11, 7990-7999. (link)
ACS Nano 2019, 13, 467-475. (link)
ChemSusChem 2018, 11, 3534-3541. (link)
Green Chemi. 2018, 20, 3732-3742. (link)
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 13434-13441. (link)
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2018, 10, 8036-8044. (link)
ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2017, 9, 40151-40161. (link)

2. Polyoxometalate-based Biomimetic Catalysts

Design and synthesis of efficient and stable electrocatalysts are a key to the successful development of clean and sustainable energy conversion/storage devices. In nature, there are huge libraries of high-performance enzymatic electrocatalysts, which have an exceptionally high selectivity and activity even without precious noble metals (e.g., Au, Pt, Pd, Rh, etc.). We are currently attempting to synthesize efficient and stable electrocatalysts by mimicking the active site of such enzymes with molecular metal oxide clusters (or polyoxometalates).  

We are interested in the design and synthesis of electrocatalysts for the following reactions:
(1) Oxygen evolution reaction (OER) and oxygen reduction reaction (ORR)
(2) Hydrogen evolution reaction (HER)
(3) CO2 conversion and CO oxidation
(4) Biomass conversion

Related recent publications

- ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 32689-32697 (link)

- ACS Catal. 2020, 10, 2060-2068. (link)

- Small 2020, 16, 1906635. (link)
J. Catal. 2018, 367, 212-220. (link)
ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 7213-7221. (link)

3. Interface Engineering of Electrodes

Interfacial wetting properties of electrodes is an important but relatively less explored issue for practical application of various electrochemical reactions. For example, the interfacial wettability of electrodes can significantly influence on the mass transport of reactants and active surface area for electrochemical reactions. However, most conventional studies have focused only on the development of efficient electrocatalysts. 


We are currently interested in the following topics for efficient electrochemical reactions:

(1) Nano- and micro-patterning of electrodes

(2) Fabrication of superhydrophobic and superaerophobic electrodes

(3) Controlling wettability of electrodes

Related recent publications

- Sci. Adv. 2020, 6, eaaz3944. (link)

4. Bio-inspired Materials  for Energy Storage & Conversion

One of the most fascinating features of biological systems is that their excellent physical and chemical properties stem from their unique structure where various organic and inorganic components are precisely assembled at nanoscale precision. They have developed their own strategy to build functional materials and systems in response to external stimuli (or environment) through evolution over millions of years. For example, excellent mechanical properties of natural bone result from their unique structure where organic peptide nanofibers and calcium phosphate nanocrystals are hierarchically organized at nano- and micro-scales. Inspired by nature, we are currently studying the design and fabrication of various functional materials for energy storage and conversion devices.


We are currently interested in the following topics:

(1) Self-assembly of biomolecules (e.g., peptide and lipid molecules) for nanofabrication 

(2) Mechanism of biomineralization (controlled growth of inorganic materials by biomolecules)

(3) Bioengineering of M13 bacteriophage (virus) for molecular recognition and biomineralization

(4) Synthesis of organic/inorganic hybrid materials by self-assembly/biomineralization approaches
(5) Controlled assembly of carbon nanomaterials by molecular recognition approaches

Related recent publications

- Sci. Adv. 2020, 6, eaaz3944. (link)

- ACS Appl. Mater. Interfaces 2020, 12, 32689-32697 (link)

- Nano Lett. 2019, 19, 8793-8800. (link)

- Commun. Chem. 2019, 2, 96. (link)
- ACS Catal. 2018, 8, 7213-7221. (link)


50 UNIST Gil, Ulju-gun, Ulsan 44919, Republic of Korea

Phone: +82 (0)52-217-3020          Email: jryu at