Matteo Cargnello is Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering and Terman Faculty Fellow. His group research interests are in the preparation and use of uniform and tailored materials for heterogeneous catalysis and photocatalysis and the technological exploitation of nanoparticles and nanocrystals. Reactions of interest are related to sustainable energy generation and use, control of emissions of greenhouse gases, and better utilization of abundant building blocks (methane, biomass). Dr. Cargnello received his Ph.D. in Nanotechnology in 2012 at the University of Trieste (Italy) and he was then a post-doctoral scholar in the Chemistry Department at the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) before joining the Faculty at Stanford. He is the recipient of the ENI Award Debut in Research 2013, the European Federation of Catalysis Societies Award as best European Ph.D. thesis in catalysis in 2013, and the Young Scientist Prize at the 16th International Congress on Catalysis in 2016.

Academic Appointments

Honors & Awards

  • Young Scientist Prize, 16th International Congress on Catalysis, Beijing (China) (2016)
  • Terman Faculty Fellow, Stanford University (2015)
  • Best European PhD Thesis in Catalysis, European Federation of Catalysis Societies (EFCATS) (2013)
  • ENI Award “Debut in Research”, ENI (2013)
  • Levi Award, Italian Chemical Society (SCI) (2012)
  • Inorganic Chemistry Division Award, Italian Chemical Society (SCI) (2012)

Professional Education

  • PhD, University of Trieste, Nanotechnology (2012)

Stanford Advisees

All Publications

  • Elucidating the synergistic mechanism of nickel-molybdenum electrocatalysts for the hydrogen evolution reaction MRS COMMUNICATIONS Mckay, I. S., Schwalbe, J. A., Goodman, E. D., Willis, J. J., Majumdar, A., Cargnello, M. 2016; 6 (3): 241-246
  • Polycatenar Ligand Control of the Synthesis and Self-Assembly of Colloidal Nanocrystals JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Diroll, B. T., Jishkariani, D., Cargnello, M., Murray, C. B., Donnio, B. 2016; 138 (33): 10508-10515


    Hydrophobic colloidal nanocrystals are typically synthesized and manipulated with commercially available ligands, and surface functionalization is therefore typically limited to a small number of molecules. Here, we report the use of polycatenar ligands derived from polyalkylbenzoates for the direct synthesis of metallic, chalcogenide, pnictide, and oxide nanocrystals. Polycatenar molecules, branched structures bearing diverging chains in which the terminal substitution pattern, functionality, and binding group can be independently modified, offer a modular platform for the development of ligands with targeted properties. Not only are these ligands used for the direct synthesis of monodisperse nanocrystals, but nanocrystals coated with polycatenar ligands self-assemble into softer bcc superlattices that deviate from conventional harder close-packed structures (fcc or hcp) formed by the same nanocrystals coated with commercial ligands. Self-assembly experiments demonstrate that the molecular structure of polycatenar ligands encodes interparticle spacings and attractions, engineering self-assembly, which is tunable from hard sphere to soft sphere behavior.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.6b04979

    View details for Web of Science ID 000382181900025

    View details for PubMedID 27472457

  • Revealing particle growth mechanisms by combining high-surface-area catalysts made with monodisperse particles and electron microscopy conducted at atmospheric pressure JOURNAL OF CATALYSIS Zhang, S., Cargnello, M., Cai, W., Murray, C. B., Graham, G. W., Pan, X. 2016; 337: 240-247
  • Engineering titania nanostructure to tune and improve its photocatalytic activity PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Cargnello, M., Montini, T., Smolin, S. Y., Priebe, J. B., Jaen, J. J., Doan-Nguyen, V. V., Mckay, I. S., Schwalbe, J. A., Pohl, M., Gordon, T. R., Lu, Y., Baxter, J. B., Brueckner, A., Fornasiero, P., Murray, C. B. 2016; 113 (15): 3966-3971


    Photocatalytic pathways could prove crucial to the sustainable production of fuels and chemicals required for a carbon-neutral society. Electron-hole recombination is a critical problem that has, so far, limited the efficiency of the most promising photocatalytic materials. Here, we show the efficacy of anisotropy in improving charge separation and thereby boosting the activity of a titania (TiO2) photocatalytic system. Specifically, we show that H2 production in uniform, one-dimensional brookite titania nanorods is highly enhanced by engineering their length. By using complimentary characterization techniques to separately probe excited electrons and holes, we link the high observed reaction rates to the anisotropic structure, which favors efficient carrier utilization. Quantum yield values for hydrogen production from ethanol, glycerol, and glucose as high as 65%, 35%, and 6%, respectively, demonstrate the promise and generality of this approach for improving the photoactivity of semiconducting nanostructures for a wide range of reacting systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1524806113

    View details for Web of Science ID 000373762400034

    View details for PubMedID 27035977

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4839447

  • Substitutional doping in nanocrystal superlattices NATURE Cargnello, M., Johnston-Peck, A. C., Diroll, B. T., Wong, E., Datta, B., Damodhar, D., Doan-Nguyen, V. V., Herzing, A. A., Kagan, C. R., Murray, C. B. 2015; 524 (7566): 450-?
  • Efficient Removal of Organic Ligands from Supported Nanocrystals by Fast Thermal Annealing Enables Catalytic Studies on Well-Defined Active Phases JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Cargnello, M., Chen, C., Diroll, B. T., Doan-Nguyen, V. V., Gorte, R. J., Murray, C. B. 2015; 137 (21): 6906-6911


    A simple yet efficient method to remove organic ligands from supported nanocrystals is reported for activating uniform catalysts prepared by colloidal synthesis procedures. The method relies on a fast thermal treatment in which ligands are quickly removed in air, before sintering can cause changes in the size and shape of the supported nanocrystals. A short treatment at high temperatures is found to be sufficient for activating the systems for catalytic reactions. We show that this method is widely applicable to nanostructures of different sizes, shapes, and compositions. Being rapid and effective, this procedure allows the production of monodisperse heterogeneous catalysts for studying a variety of structure-activity relationships. We show here results on methane steam reforming, where the particle size controls the CO/CO2 ratio on alumina-supported Pd, demonstrating the potential applications of the method in catalysis.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/jacs.5b03333

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355890600025

    View details for PubMedID 25961673

  • Dynamic structural evolution of supported palladium-ceria core-shell catalysts revealed by in situ electron microscopy. Nature communications Zhang, S., Chen, C., Cargnello, M., Fornasiero, P., Gorte, R. J., Graham, G. W., Pan, X. 2015; 6: 7778-?


    The exceptional activity for methane combustion of modular palladium-ceria core-shell subunits on silicon-functionalized alumina that was recently reported has created renewed interest in the potential of core-shell structures as catalysts. Here we report on our use of advanced ex situ and in situ electron microscopy with atomic resolution to show that the modular palladium-ceria core-shell subunits undergo structural evolution over a wide temperature range. In situ observations performed in an atmospheric gas cell within this temperature range provide real-time evidence that the palladium and ceria nanoparticle constituents of the palladium-ceria core-shell participate in a dynamical process that leads to the formation of an unanticipated structure comprised of an intimate mixture of palladium, cerium, silicon and oxygen, with very high dispersion. This finding may open new perspectives about the origin of the activity of this catalyst.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms8778

    View details for PubMedID 26160065

  • Solution-Phase Synthesis of Titanium Dioxide Nanoparticles and Nanocrystals CHEMICAL REVIEWS Cargnello, M., Gordon, T. R., Murray, C. B. 2014; 114 (19): 9319-9345

    View details for DOI 10.1021/cr500170p

    View details for Web of Science ID 000343017900003

    View details for PubMedID 25004056

  • Enhanced Energy Transfer in Quasi-Quaternary Nanocrystal Superlattices ADVANCED MATERIALS Cargnello, M., Diroll, B. T., Gaulding, E. A., Murray, C. B. 2014; 26 (15): 2419-2423


    Quasi-quaternary nanocrystal superlattices are assembled by using exclusively core-shell particles as building blocks. The assemblies show an enhancement of energy-transfer from cadmium selenide-based core-shell quantum dots to gold-iron oxide core-shell nanocrystals compared to random mixtures of the same components.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/adma.201304136

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334181400019

    View details for PubMedID 24357329

  • Control of Metal Nanocrystal Size Reveals Metal-Support Interface Role for Ceria Catalysts SCIENCE Cargnello, M., Doan-Nguyen, V. V., Gordon, T. R., Diaz, R. E., Stach, E. A., Gorte, R. J., Fornasiero, P., Murray, C. B. 2013; 341 (6147): 771-773


    Interactions between ceria (CeO2) and supported metals greatly enhance rates for a number of important reactions. However, direct relationships between structure and function in these catalysts have been difficult to extract because the samples studied either were heterogeneous or were model systems dissimilar to working catalysts. We report rate measurements on samples in which the length of the ceria-metal interface was tailored by the use of monodisperse nickel, palladium, and platinum nanocrystals. We found that carbon monoxide oxidation in ceria-based catalysts is greatly enhanced at the ceria-metal interface sites for a range of group VIII metal catalysts, clarifying the pivotal role played by the support.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1240148

    View details for Web of Science ID 000323122200043

    View details for PubMedID 23868919

  • Exceptional Activity for Methane Combustion over Modular Pd@CeO2 Subunits on Functionalized Al2O3 SCIENCE Cargnello, M., Delgado Jaen, J. J., Hernandez Garrido, J. C., Bakhmutsky, K., Montini, T., Calvino Gamez, J. J., Gorte, R. J., Fornasiero, P. 2012; 337 (6095): 713-717


    There is a critical need for improved methane-oxidation catalysts to both reduce emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas, and improve the performance of gas turbines. However, materials that are currently available either have low activity below 400°C or are unstable at higher temperatures. Here, we describe a supramolecular approach in which single units composed of a palladium (Pd) core and a ceria (CeO(2)) shell are preorganized in solution and then homogeneously deposited onto a modified hydrophobic alumina. Electron microscopy and other structural methods revealed that the Pd cores remained isolated even after heating the catalyst to 850°C. Enhanced metal-support interactions led to exceptionally high methane oxidation, with complete conversion below 400°C and outstanding thermal stability under demanding conditions.

    View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1222887

    View details for Web of Science ID 000307354500049

    View details for PubMedID 22879514

  • Multiwalled Carbon Nanotubes Drive the Activity of Metal@oxide Core-Shell Catalysts in Modular Nanocomposites JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Cargnello, M., Grzelczak, M., Rodriguez-Gonzalez, B., Syrgiannis, Z., Bakhmutsky, K., La Parola, V., Liz-Marzan, L. M., Gorte, R. J., Prato, M., Fornasiero, P. 2012; 134 (28): 11760-11766


    Rational nanostructure manipulation has been used to prepare nanocomposites in which multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were embedded inside mesoporous layers of oxides (TiO(2), ZrO(2), or CeO(2)), which in turn contained dispersed metal nanoparticles (Pd or Pt). We show that the MWCNTs induce the crystallization of the oxide layer at room temperature and that the mesoporous oxide shell allows the particles to be accessible for catalytic reactions. In contrast to samples prepared in the absence of MWCNTs, both the activity and the stability of core-shell catalysts is largely enhanced, resulting in nanocomposites with remarkable performance for the water-gas-shift reaction, photocatalytic reforming of methanol, and Suzuki coupling. The modular approach shown here demonstrates that high-performance catalytic materials can be obtained through the precise organization of nanoscale building blocks.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja304398b

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306457900068

    View details for PubMedID 22716042

  • Nonaqueous Synthesis of TiO2 Nanocrystals Using TiF4 to Engineer Morphology, Oxygen Vacancy Concentration, and Photocatalytic Activity JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Gordon, T. R., Cargnello, M., Paik, T., Mangolini, F., Weber, R. T., Fornasiero, P., Murray, C. B. 2012; 134 (15): 6751-6761


    Control over faceting in nanocrystals (NCs) is pivotal for many applications, but most notably when investigating catalytic reactions which occur on the surfaces of nanostructures. Anatase titanium dioxide (TiO(2)) is one of the most studied photocatalysts, but the shape dependence of its activity has not yet been satisfactorily investigated and many questions still remain unanswered. We report the nonaqueous surfactant-assisted synthesis of highly uniform anatase TiO(2) NCs with tailorable morphology in the 10-100 nm size regime, prepared through a seeded growth technique. Introduction of titanium(IV) fluoride (TiF(4)) preferentially exposes the {001} facet of anatase through in situ release of hydrofluoric acid (HF), allowing for the formation of uniform anatase NCs based on the truncated tetragonal bipyramidal geometry. A method is described to engineer the percentage of {001} and {101} facets through the choice of cosurfactant and titanium precursor. X-ray diffraction studies are performed in conjunction with simulation to determine an average NC dimension which correlates with results obtained using electron microscopy. In addition to altering the particle shape, the introduction of TiF(4) into the synthesis results in TiO(2) NCs that are blue in color and display a broad visible/NIR absorbance which peaks in the infrared (λ(max) ≈ 3400 nm). The blue color results from oxygen vacancies formed in the presence of fluorine, as indicated by electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS) studies. The surfactants on the surface of the NCs are removed through a simple ligand exchange procedure, allowing the shape dependence of photocatalytic hydrogen evolution to be studied using monodisperse TiO(2) NCs. Preliminary experiments on the photoreforming of methanol, employed as a model sacrificial agent, on platinized samples resulted in high volumes of evolved hydrogen (up to 2.1 mmol h(-1) g(-1)) under simulated solar illumination. Remarkably, the data suggest that, under our experimental conditions, the {101} facets of anatase are more active than the {001}.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja300823a

    View details for Web of Science ID 000302887300038

    View details for PubMedID 22444667

  • Synthesis of Dispersible Pd@CeO2 Core-Shell Nanostructures by Self-Assembly JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN CHEMICAL SOCIETY Cargnello, M., Wieder, N. L., Montini, T., Gorte, R. J., Fornasiero, P. 2010; 132 (4): 1402-1409


    A methodology is described for the preparation of Pd@CeO(2) core-shell nanostructures that are easily dispersible in common organic solvents. The method involves the synthesis of Pd nanoparticles protected by a monolayer of 11-mercaptoundecanoic acid (MUA). The carboxylic groups on the nanoparticle surfaces are used to direct the self-assembly of a cerium(IV) alkoxide around the metal particles, followed by the controlled hydrolysis to form CeO(2). The characterization of the nanostructures by means of different techniques, in particular by electron microscopy, allowed us to demonstrate the nature of core-shell systems, with CeO(2) nanocrystals forming a shell around the MUA-protected Pd core. Finally, an example of the use of these nanostructures as flexible precursors for the preparation of heterogeneous catalysts is reported by investigating the reactivity of Pd@CeO(2)/Al(2)O(3) nanocomposites toward CO oxidation, water-gas shift (WGS), and methanol steam reforming reactions. Together with CO adsorption data, these observations suggest the accessibility of the Pd phase in the nanocomposites.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/ja909131k

    View details for Web of Science ID 000275084800058

    View details for PubMedID 20043676