Mario Ramos-Garcés, CHESS User and former Ph.D. student at UPR-Río Piedras has been honored by the American Chemical Society's Division of Inorganic Chemistry with the Young Investigator Award for his Ph.D. research.
Mario will make a presentation of those research results, including results from data taken at CHEXS, at the ACS National Meeting next Fall.
The ACS award is a tribute to Ramos-Garcés’ Ph.D. work at UPR on inorganic chemistry, where he was able to access the synchrotron expertise at CHESS through the NSF-funded PREM Center for Interfacial Electrochemistry of Energy Materials, CIE2M.
The mission of the PREM CIE2M center is to recruit and prepare students in synchrotron science by increasing the number of Hispanic users at CHESS. Ramos-Garcés is one of those users.
“Thanks to CIE2M/CHESS I was able to learn more about synchrotron science and even more importantly, become a user of the facilities,” he says. “Without this opportunity, the operando experiments would not have been possible.”
“This award is a recognition of the cutting-edge research that the University of Puerto Rico performs and gives exposure to it,” says Ramos-Garcés. “It recognizes the work of its Hispanic researchers, especially in the field of Inorganic Chemistry.”
Ramos-Garcés research relies on modifying zirconium phosphate, an inorganic layered material, with different transition metals such as iron, nickel, and cobalt to engineer materials that can function as catalysts for water oxidation.
This reaction is better known as the oxygen evolution reaction, and many clean energy technologies such as metal-air batteries, water electrolysis, and CO2 reduction - all rely on this reaction.
Ramos-Garcés was able to further study zirconium phosphate by performing X-ray absorption experiments alongside his Ph.D. advisor, Dr. Jorge L. Colón, at the PIPOXS beamline at CHEXS. These materials were studied under operando conditions, allowing the X-ray absorption experiments to occur as the materials catalyze the oxygen evolution reaction in real time.
Ramos-Garcés explains that studying zirconium phosphate and other materials under these conditions is extremely important to help engineering better catalysts in the future.
“The best commercial catalysts available today are mostly made from noble metals which are, of course, expensive and scarce,” says Ramos-Garcés. “The development of highly active and stable catalysts for this reaction will not only increase the efficiency of these clean energy technologies but also make them more economically competitive.”
Ramos-Garcés, who dedicates this award to his late grandfather, says he is thankful to the many people at CHESS, especially Ken Finkelstein, Chris Pollock, and Louise Debefve, for all their help and training at the PIPOXS beamline.
“I would also like to thank the CIE2M/CHESS partnership for all the great work they are doing in increasing Hispanic representation in synchrotron science,” he says. “This award is a recognition of the cutting-edge research that the University of Puerto Rico performs and gives exposure to it,” says Ramos-Garcés. “It recognizes the work of its Hispanic researchers, especially in the field of Inorganic Chemistry.”