Hope College Physics Department
Research Experiences for Undergraduates
Summer 2012
Project Summary


Project Title: Characterization of Electrodeposited Nanoporous Ni and NiCu Films
Student Name: Kyla Koboski
Student's Home Institution: Hope College
Research Advisor: Dr. Jennifer Hampton
Source of Support:

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under NSF-RUI Grant No. DMR-1104725, NSF-MRI Grant No. CHE-1126462 and NSF-MRI Grant No. CHE-0959282.

Nanoporous thin films are interesting candidates to catalyze certain reactions because of their large surface areas. This specific project focuses on the deposition of Ni and NiCu thin films on a Au substrate and further explores the catalysis of the hydrogen evolution reaction (HER). Depositions are created using controlled potential electrolysis, a process where the potential at which the metal alloy deposition occurs is set and the length of time or total charge of the deposition is adjusted. Samples are then dealloyed using either DC potential amperometry with an applied constant potential or cyclic voltammetry for linear sweeping.
Before and after the dealloying, all the samples are characterized using multiple techniques. Electrochemical capacitance measurements allow comparisons of sample roughness. HER measurements characterize the reactivity of the sample with respect to the specific catalytic reaction. The Tafel equation is fit to the data to obtain information about the kinetics of the HER of the samples. Other methods for characterizing the samples include scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS). The use of SEM allows images to be taken of the deposition to determine the change in the structure pre- and post- dealloy of the sample. EDS allows the elemental composition of the deposition to be determined before and after the dealloy stage.

Publications and Presentations: