Imperial College London

Prof. Ifan E. L. Stephens

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Materials

Professor in Electrochemistry



+44 (0)20 7594 9523i.stephens Website




Molecular Sciences Research HubWhite City Campus





Ifan leads the Interfacial Electrochemistry Group at the Department of Materials

Ifan joined Imperial College in July 2017. Prior to Imperial, he was at the Department of Physics at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU); he was first employed as a postdoctoral researcher, then as assistant professor and finally as associate professor and leader of the Electrocatalysis Group there.

In 2015, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) appointed Ifan as the Peabody Visiting Associate Professor. He taught and conducted research at the Department of Mechanical Engineering at MIT for a whole semester.

Ifan’s research aims to enable the large-scale electrochemical conversion of renewable energy to fuels and valuable chemicals and vice versa. Such processes will be critical in order to allow the increased uptake of renewable energy.  

His focus is on the catalyst at the electrode, i.e. the electrocatalyst. It turns out that the electrocatalyst material defines the efficiency of several important electrochemical processes, including:

(i) electrolysis for the storage of renewable electricity — which is inherently intermittent — in the form of fuels, such as hydrogen or alcohols.
(ii) fuel cells as a potentially zero emission source of power for automotive vehicles.
(iii) the green synthesis of valuable chemicals, such as H2O2.
(iv) batteries, which tend to degrade by gas evolution at the electrode-electrolyte interface. Hence the reactions that need to be accelerated in electrolysers and fuel cells — such as CO2, CO, O2 and H2 evolution — are precisely those that need to be inhibited in batteries.

Ifan has discovered or co-discovered several new catalysts for the oxygen reduction reaction, which exhibited significant improvements in performance over the prior state-of-the-art (see Selected Publications). In particular, his research on hydrogen peroxide production led to the establishment of the spinout company, HP Now

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

Thornton DB, Davies BJV, Scott SB, et al., 2024, Probing Degradation in Lithium Ion Batteries with On-Chip Electrochemistry Mass Spectrometry., Angew Chem Int Ed Engl, Vol:63

Tort R, Bagger A, Westhead O, et al., 2023, Searching for the rules of electrochemical nitrogen fixation, ACS Catalysis, Vol:13, ISSN:2155-5435, Pages:14513-14522

Pedersen A, Pandya J, Leonzio G, et al., 2023, Comparative techno-economic and life-cycle analysis of precious versus non-precious metal electrocatalysts: the case of PEM fuel cell cathodes, Green Chemistry, Vol:25, ISSN:1463-9262, Pages:10458-10471

Favero S, Stephens IEL, Titirici M-M, 2023, Deconvoluting kinetics and transport effects of ionic liquid layers on FeN4-based oxygen reduction catalysts, Ees Catalysis, Vol:1, ISSN:2753-801X, Pages:742-754

Mukadam Z, Liu S, Pedersen A, et al., 2023, Furfural electrovalorisation using single-atom molecular catalysts, Energy & Environmental Science, Vol:16, ISSN:1754-5692, Pages:2934-2944

Westhead O, Barrio J, Bagger A, et al., 2023, Near ambient N2 fixation on solid electrodes versus enzymes and homogeneous catalysts, Nature Reviews Chemistry, Vol:7, ISSN:2397-3358, Pages:184-201

Westhead O, Spry M, Bagger A, et al., 2023, Correction: The role of ion solvation in lithium mediated nitrogen reduction, Journal of Materials Chemistry A, Vol:11, ISSN:2050-7488, Pages:13039-13039

Pedersen A, Barrio J, Li A, et al., 2022, Dual-Metal Atom Electrocatalysts: Theory, Synthesis, Characterization, and Applications, Advanced Energy Materials, Vol:12, ISSN:1614-6832

Stephens IEL, Westhead O, Bagger A, et al., 2021, (Keynote) Why Is Lithium Uniquely Able to Reduce Nitrogen to Ammonia Under Ambient Conditions?, Ecs Meeting Abstracts, Vol:MA2021-02, Pages:1542-1542

Iriawan H, Andersen SZ, Zhang X, et al., 2021, (Invited) Nitrogen Activation by Reduction and Oxidation: A Primer for Rigorous and Reproducible Measurements, Ecs Meeting Abstracts, Vol:MA2021-02, Pages:1552-1552

Guo L, Thornton DB, Koronfel MA, et al., 2021, Degradation in lithium ion battery current collectors, Jphys Energy, Vol:3, ISSN:2515-7655

Bagger A, Wan H, Stephens IEL, et al., 2021, Role of catalyst in controlling N-2 reduction selectivity: a unified view of nitrogenase and solid electrodes, ACS Catalysis, Vol:11, ISSN:2155-5435, Pages:6596-6601

Yadegari H, Koronfel MA, Wang K, et al., 2021, Operando measurement of layer breathing modes in lithiated graphite, Acs Energy Letters, Vol:6, ISSN:2380-8195, Pages:1633-1638

Rao RR, Stephens IEL, Durrant JR, 2021, Understanding What Controls the Rate of Electrochemical Oxygen Evolution, Joule, Vol:5, ISSN:2542-4351, Pages:16-18

Duarte R, Rao R, Durrant J, et al., 2020, Towards Active and Stable Bifunctional NiCo<sub>2</sub>O<sub>4</sub> Catalysts for O<sub>2</sub> Evolution and Reduction in Alkaline Media, Ecs Meeting Abstracts, Vol:MA2020-02, Pages:3860-3860

Jensen KD, Pedersen AF, Zamburlini E, et al., 2020, X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy Investigation of Platinum-Gadolinium Thin Films with Different Stoichiometry for the Oxygen Reduction Reaction, Catalysts, Vol:10

Sebastian-Pascual P, Mezzavilla S, Stephens IEL, et al., 2019, Structure-sensitivity and Electrolyte Effects in CO<sub>2</sub> Electroreduction: From Model Studies to Applications, Chemcatchem, Vol:11, ISSN:1867-3880, Pages:3624-3643

Nitopi S, Bertheussen E, Scott SB, et al., 2019, Progress and Perspectives of Electrochemical CO2 Reduction on Copper in Aqueous Electrolyte, Chemical Reviews, Vol:119, ISSN:0009-2665, Pages:7610-7672

Chan AK, Tatara R, Feng S, et al., 2019, Concentrated Electrolytes for Enhanced Stability of Al-Alloy Negative Electrodes in Li-Ion Batteries, Journal of the Electrochemical Society, Vol:166, ISSN:0013-4651, Pages:A1867-A1874

Mezzavilla S, Horch S, Stephens IEL, et al., 2019, Structure Sensitivity in the Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO<sub>2</sub> with Gold Catalysts, Angewandte Chemie, Vol:131, ISSN:0044-8249, Pages:3814-3818

Mezzavilla S, Horch S, Stephens IEL, et al., 2019, Structure Sensitivity in the Electrocatalytic Reduction of CO2 with Gold Catalysts., Angew Chem Int Ed Engl

Jensen KD, Tymoczko J, Rossmeisl J, et al., 2018, Elucidation of the oxygen reduction volcano in alkaline media using a copper–platinum(111) alloy, Angewandte Chemie - International Edition, Vol:57, ISSN:1433-7851, Pages:2800-2805

Rao RM, Kolb MJ, Halck, et al., 2017, Towards identifying the active sites on RuO2 (110) in catalyzing oxygen evolution, Energy & Environmental Science, Vol:10, ISSN:1754-5692, Pages:2626-2637

Stephens IEL, Rossmeisl J, Chorkendorff I, 2016, Toward sustainable fuel cells, Science, Vol:354, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:1378-1379

Pedersen AF, Ulrikkeholm ET, Escudero-Escribano M, et al., 2016, Probing the nanoscale structure of the catalytically active overlayer on Pt alloys with rare earths, Nano Energy, Vol:29, ISSN:2211-2855, Pages:249-260

Escudero-Escribano M, Malacrida P, Hansen MH, et al., 2016, Tuning the activity of Pt alloy electrocatalysts by means of the lanthanide contraction, Science, Vol:352, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:73-76

Frydendal R, Paoli EA, Chorkendorff I, et al., 2015, Toward an active and stable catalyst for oxygen evolution in acidic media: Ti-Stabilized MnO2, Advanced Energy Materials, Vol:5, ISSN:1614-6832

Stephens IEL, Elias JS, Shao-Horn Y, 2015, The importance of being together, Science, Vol:350, ISSN:0036-8075, Pages:164-165

Hernandez-Fernandez P, Masini F, McCarthy DN, et al., 2014, Mass-selected nanoparticles of Pt<i><sub>x</sub></i>Y as model catalysts for oxygen electroreduction, Nature Chemistry, Vol:6, ISSN:1755-4330, Pages:732-738

Siahrostami S, Verdaguer-Casadevall A, Karamad M, et al., 2013, Enabling direct H<sub>2</sub>O<sub>2</sub> production through rational electrocatalyst design, Nature Materials, Vol:12, ISSN:1476-1122, Pages:1137-1143

Stephens IEL, Bondarenko AS, Gronbjerg U, et al., 2012, Understanding the electrocatalysis of oxygen reduction on platinum and its alloys, Energy & Environmental Science, Vol:5, ISSN:1754-5692, Pages:6744-6762

Stephens IEL, Bondarenko AS, Perez-Alonso FJ, et al., 2011, Tuning the Activity of Pt(111) for Oxygen Electroreduction by Subsurface Alloying, Journal of the American Chemical Society, Vol:133, ISSN:0002-7863, Pages:5485-5491

Greeley J, Stephens IEL, Bondarenko AS, et al., 2009, Alloys of platinum and early transition metals as oxygen reduction electrocatalysts, Nature Chemistry, Vol:1, ISSN:1755-4330, Pages:552-556

More Publications