Electrocatalytic Green Engineering Group


Increase fundamental knowledge about synthesis of nano-structures by glow discharge electrolysis with the aim to develop nano-structured electrocatalysts and super-capacitors.

Team Members

Producing nanoparticles by contact glow discharge electrolysis

Ni nano-particles Cu nano-particles

When operated under high current densities (typically larger than 1 A/mm2), gas bubbles grow dense enough on an electrode to allow the formation of a thin gas film by bubble coalescence. Electrical discharges take place between the electrode and the electrolyte.

This effect is known in the literature under various names, such a electrode effects, electrochemical discharges or glow discharge electrolysis. It was first described in 1844 by the French physicists Foucault and Fizeau. We use this effect to synthesis a large variety of metlic nano-particles

  1. A. Lal, H. Bleuler, R. Wüthrich: Electrochemistry Communications (2008) 10, 488-491

Synthesis of nano-particles by glow discharge electrolysis

Synthesis of nano-particles by ECD

The electrical discharges taking place in the gas film formed around an electrode during glow discharge electrolysis can be used to locally reduce metal ions contained in the supporting electrolyte. The pH of the supporting electrolyte has to be chosen in order to insure the presence of the desired ions.

Particles of a large variety of metals can be synthesised, including Pt, Au, Cu, Ni. Alloys are possible as well (including Pt-Au and Ni-Cu). The size of the synthesised particles can partially be adjusted by controlling the residence time of the reactants near the electrode (rotation or using pulsed voltage).

Current Research

Our current research focuses on the following aspects:
  1. R. Wüthrich, A. Allagui: Electrochimica Acta (2010) 55, 8189-8196


Main applications currently under investigation