- Heterogeneous Catalysis
- Operando Spectroscopy
- Nanoparticle Design
Peter’s research focuses on the development of operando spectroscopic methods and controlled catalyst preparation, both essential tools in understanding the complex properties of catalysts. These studies make extensive use of synchrotron radiation facilities, both in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, and strong collaboration with the UK Catalysis Hub. His experience is synchrotron radiation studies is recognised in the field and currently serves on the peer-review-panels of both Diamond Light Source and the Swiss Light Source.
A major theme of Peter’s research is the development and application of in situ and operando methods to the study of catalysis. Catalysts, by nature, are exceedingly dynamic and although unconsumed by the process of catalysis they adapt to the evolving chemical environment. Peter uses advanced X-ray based techniques, e.g. X-ray absorption spectroscopy, to follow these structural changes and relate them to how catalysts function effectively. Furthermore, the group have a keen interest in understanding the chemical steps involved within catalyst preparation – be it impregnation, sol‑immobilisation, or mechanochemical methods - and how these also contribute to catalyst performance.
Such changes are commonly place for supported metal nanoparticles, and this is another significant topic of research. The group design and prepare tailored nanoparticle catalysts with customised properties for a range of catalytic processes – from the production of sustainable platform chemicals using waste biomass to the remediation of environmental pollutants.
Combining these topics, Peter is interested in learning how specific structural changes that traditionally occur during catalysis, e.g. the formation of nitride and carbidic Pd nanoparticles (EPSRC, EP/V000691/1, £1.26M, PI – P. Wells), can be stabilised and harnessed for new catalyst technologies.