Abstract

Two dimensional (2D) materials offer excellent opportunities for application as catalysts for energy needs. Their catalytic activity depends on the nature of defects, their geometry and their electronic structure. It thus important that the characteristics of defect-laden 2D materials be understood at the microscopic level. My dissertation focuses on theoretical and computational studies of several novel nanoscale materials using state-of-the-art techniques based on density functional theory (DFT) with the objective of understanding the microscopic factors that control material functionality. My work has helped establish defect-laden hexagonal boron nitride (dh-BN) as a promising metal-free catalyst for CO2 hydrogenation. Firstly, I showed how small molecules (H2, CO, CO2) interacting with several kinds of defects in dh-BN (with nitrogen or boron vacancy, boron substituted for nitrogen, Stone-Wales defect). I analyzed binding energies and electronic structures of adsorption of molecules on dh-BN to predict their catalytic activities. Then by computational efforts on reaction pathways and activation energy barriers, I found that vacancies induced in dh-BN can effectively activate the CO2 molecule for hydrogenation, where activation occurs through back-donation to the ?* orbitals of CO2 from frontier orbitals (defect state) of the h-BN sheet localized near a nitrogen vacancy (VN). Subsequent hydrogenation to formic acid (HCOOH) and methanol (CH3OH), indicating dh-BN (VN) an excellent metal-free catalyst for CO2 reduction, which may serve as a solution for global energy and sustainability. At the same time, I studied critical steps of the catalytic processes from carbon monoxide and methanol to higher alcohol on single-layer MoS2 functionalized with small Au nanoparticle, indicating C-C coupling feasible on MoS2-Au13, which led to production of acetaldehyde (CH3CHO). Whereas a bilayer 31-atom cluster of gold on MoS2 show excellent catalytic performance on CO hydrogenation to methanol through two effective pathways

Notes

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Graduation Date

2019

Semester

Fall

Advisor

Rahman, Talat

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Physics

Degree Program

Physics

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0007823

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0007823

Language

English

Release Date

December 2019

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Restricted to the UCF community until December 2019; it will then be open access.

Included in

Physics Commons

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