Clare Martin ’22


Chemical and Biological Engineering

Project Title

Binary Transition Metal Oxide Electrocatalysts for the Oxygen Evolution Reaction

I worked on improving a process essential to cost-efficient electrolysis (water splitting), which is an emissions-free way to produce hydrogen fuel. The reaction is limited, however, by the inefficiency of one of its half reactions, the oxygen evolution reaction (OER). The most efficient OER catalysts are made from the prohibitively expensive metals iridium and ruthenium. I helped develop procedures for synthesizing OER electrocatalysts made from nanostructured metal-oxide thin films composed of catalytically active metal oxides (namely ruthenium, iridium and cobalt) and oxides of less expensive metals (zirconium, hafnium and titanium). I designed a new non-reactive electrochemical cell in which to synthesize metal-oxide films through electrodeposition; optimized the polishing and etching processes for the titanium substrates on which the films are grown; and synthesized potential oxalate single-source precursors for ruthenium, cobalt and iridium oxides. I also received training on how to operate a scanning electron microscope, Raman spectrometer, and an X-ray photoelectron spectrometer. This internship taught me concepts in imaging instrumentation and valuable wet-lab techniques, confirming my aspirations to conduct chemistry-based research with environmental applications.

Internship Year


Project Category

New Energy Future


Koel Group, Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, Princeton University - Princeton, New Jersey


Bruce Koel, Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering; Rachel Selinsky, Associate Research Scholar, Chemical and Biological Engineering