Dr Reshma Rao has received the prestigious 2023 Clara Immerwahr award for research into renewable energy for green hydrogen.
Launched by UniCat in 2011, the award recognises young female scientists at an early stage of their careers who are working to promote equity and excellence in catalysis research.
Tackling challenges in renewable energy
Dr Rao joined the Department of Materials as a Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellow in October 2022.
Dr Rao's research proposal tackles a pertinent challenge of this century – using renewable energy to produce green hydrogen via water electrolysis. Today, the development of more active and stable catalysts is limited by our lack of fundamental understanding of the reactions taking place at the catalyst-water interface.
At this stage of my career, the Clara Immerwahr Award offers me an unparalleled opportunity to develop new collaborations with researchers and shape my independent research trajectory. Dr Reshma Rao
In order to address this challenge, Dr Rao has proposed to combine state-of-the-art fabrication techniques and time-resolved optical spectroscopy with X-ray and vibrational spectroscopy measurements to understand the molecular processes governing the rate of reaction at these interfaces.
Dr Rao commented: "The synergy between the equipment available at Imperial College London and UniSysCat has the potential to accelerate catalyst discovery significantly.
At this stage of my career, the Clara Immerwahr Award offers an unparalleled opportunity to develop new collaborations with researchers and shape my independent research trajectory."
Using this atomic insight, Dr Rao hopes to be able to rationally develop design descriptors for more active catalytic interfaces, thus directly contributing to solving the long-standing bottleneck for the scale-up of green hydrogen to the terawatt level. This scale-up will accelerate the use of hydrogen as a viable, clean energy source on a similar scale to today's natural gas industry - an exciting prospect for the future of renewable energy.
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Department of Materials
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