Zahid Hussain’s research visit at the TU Munich: MOF-Derived Bimetal Oxide/Carbon (M-MO/C) Nanocomposites for Solar Light Driven Applications

Zahid Hussain started his PhD in the EPSRC CDT in Metamaterials in 2016 and was invited to join the Catalysis Research Center at the Technical University, Munich, from January to December 2018.

This fantastic opportunity aims to derive bi-metal oxide nanocomposites from metal organic frameworks (MOFs) for high efficient solar light driven applications. Zahid got in touch recently to provide us with an update on his experiences which we’d like to share with you:

“During my stay at Technical University in Munich, I divided my project in three phases. Firstly, I synthesized titanium based metal organic framework (MOF) NH2-MIL-125 and studied the structural and textual properties. For this purpose, basic characterization techniques were employed. Once I confirmed that the MOF structure is stable under ambient conditions, I used it for photocatalytic dye degradation of methylene blue (MB) and H2 evolution reaction (HER). In the second part, I derived TiO2/C composites from the above mentioned MOF upon calcination at high temperature. I used different temperatures and gaseous atmospheres to optimize the crystal structure, morphologies and energy band gaps. Once the MOF derived TiO2/C composites were synthesized, I used them for visible light photocatalysis and found that the derived composites show much higher photocatalytic dye degradation and H2 production efficiency as compared to the precursor MOF. Moreover, the MOF structure was not stable upon chemical interaction with MB dye molecules.

In the second phase of the project, I studied the synergistic effect of bi-metallic MOF and derived bimetal oxide/Carbon composites. For this work, I selected a transition metal such as Copper (Cu) and introduced it during the synthesis of Ti-MOF to achieve bimetallic MOFs with different molar ratios. For comparison, I followed two synthesis routes: 1) direct mixing of two metal ions during synthesis and 2) synthesis with loading of second metal ion after the synthesis of Ti-MOF. The synthesized bimetallic MOFs were carbonized to produce TiO2/CuO/C nanocomposites via high temperature pyrolysis under different conditions. The obtained nanocomposites were fully characterized to understand the underlying synthesis mechanisms and the correlation of the MOF precursors and the derived bimetal oxide composites. This is an ongoing project and the final research findings will be published in a peer reviewed journal very soon.

The third phase of my research visit at the TU Munich is to use these MOF derived nanocomposites for photovoltaic applications. This work is expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

During my stay, I also participate in public outreach activities. We organized a show lecture: “The Crazy Chemist’s Guide to the Universe” for general audience and undergraduate students to demonstrate how our universe is made of chemical elements which we use and experience in our daily life. We are planning to organize another activity to show that being a “concerned scientist’’, how scientists can play a constructive role in the betterment of society.

I am thankful to the CDT in Metamaterials (XM2) and my supervisors to allow me to develop these very useful research collaborations with the TU Munich. It provided me with an excellent opportunity to develop a range of new experimental research skills.”

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