School Seminar: Dr Peter Sherrell, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – School of Chemistry School Seminar: Dr Peter Sherrell, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology – School of Chemistry

School Seminar: Dr Peter Sherrell, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Wednesday, 30 August 11:00am – 12:00pm

This seminar will be delivered in Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4 and Online (Zoom) Please email for zoom link and password.

Speaker: Dr Peter Sherrell, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology

Host: Dr Kaye Kang

Title: Enhancing Electrocatalysis Using Motion: Towards Sustainable Chemistry

Abstract: Catalytic future fuel production will revolutionise the energy industry, with significant research on developing advanced catalytic materials such as liquid metals, nanoparticles, 2D crystals, and single-atom catalysts. For these technologies to become viable, we must develop ways to reduce the required electricity input to drive the reactant-to-fuel processes, particularly for non-Pt group elements.

While development of advanced and structurally optimised catalysts provides one pathway to lower the required energy input, this approach is limited by materials selection, availability, and cost. Our focus is on integrating energy harvesting materials (motion or heat to electricity) into catalytic materials and devices, towards developing platform technologies that can enhance the performance for arbitrary catalysts.

Here, I will discuss our development of electrostatic[1-2] and piezoelectric[3-4] polymer energy harvesters, and how motion within electrochemical and electrocatalytic systems can be recycled to enhance their efficiency.[5] For motion based effects, kinetic improvements such as improved mass diffusion, achieved through vibration are coupled with electronic effects, such as band screening and fermi level shifts from the mechanically responsive materials.[6]  By controlling the interface between the electrocatalysts and the polymers, significant reductions in required external energy can be achieved.

The fundamental principles discussed here can be applied broadly to portable and scalable future fuel production, providing a pathway to low energy fuel production.


  1. Šutka, et al., Adv. Mater. 2020, 32, 2002979, 10.1002/adma.202002979
  2. Linarts, et al., Small 2023, 19, 2205563,
  3. A. Shepelin, et al., Energy & Environmental Science 2020, 13, 868, 10.1039/C9EE03059J
  4. A. Shepelin, et al., Nature Communications 2021, 12, 3171, 10.1038/s41467-021-23341-3
  5. Ehrnst, et al., Advanced Energy Materials 2023, 13, 2203164,
  6. Corletto, et al., Adv. Mater. 2022, 34, 2203849,

Bio: Dr Peter Sherrell is a Senior Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellow in the School of Science at RMIT University. He graduated his Ph.D. from the Intelligent Polymer Research Institute at the University of Wollongong in 2012, before moving to Linköping University, Sweden (2013-2015), being awarded a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship in the Department of Materials, Imperial College London (2015-2018), an Elizabeth and Vernon Puzey Individual Fellowship at the University of Melbourne (2019-2023) along with a Chemical Engineering Teaching Fellowship (2022-2023). In 2023 Peter has moved to RMIT University on the Senior Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fellowship Scheme. Peter is also currently an Honorary Senior Research Fellow in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Melbourne; an Associate Investigator for the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Energy-Efficient Beneficiation of Minerals; a Fellow of the Melbourne Energy Institute; and the Communications Officer for the RACI Physical Chemistry Division Executive Committee.

Peter’s research interests lie in the combination fundamental materials science and electrochemistry, to enable advances is energy harvesting, conversion, and storage applications. His current focus is in understanding the mechanisms of polymer-based energy harvesters and developing pathways to recycle energy in electrocatalysis to make these processes more efficient.


Aug 30 2023


11:00 am - 12:00 pm


Chemistry Lecture Theatre 4
Level 2, School of Chemistry

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