Advancing the future of clean energy in the U.S.

Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Dan Moser, May 3, 2024

Advancing the future of clean energy in the U.S.


The “Journal Entries” series features short summaries of University of Nebraska-Lincoln research that has been published recently in peer-reviewed journals. One aim of the N2025 Strategic Plan is to elevate the impact of research, scholarly, and creative activities, which includes increasing the number of scholarly journal articles and citations.  

Who: Siamak Nejati, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering; Syed Ibrahim Gnani Peer Mohamed, postdoctoral associate; collaborators from the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania.

Article: “Vapor-Phase Synthesis of Electrocatalytic Covalent Organic Frameworks,” Advanced Materials, published Dec. 25, 2023.

One of the U.S. Department of Energy’s priorities is to accelerate breakthroughs in more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers are contributing to DOE’s Energy Earthshots initiative, which aims to help solve the climate crisis, reach net-zero carbon goals, and create jobs in the new clean energy economy.

The Husker research team is part of a multi-institutional project that is developing new approaches for the design and synthesis of porous frameworks — pockmarked organic films that offer an increased electrochemical reactivity underlying many green technologies. These structures are difficult to synthesize using traditional “wet chemistry” methods, particularly at the thickness required for many advanced applications. 

The article was featured on the cover of Advanced Materials

The Nebraska team is working on a vapor-phase synthesis approach to create electroactive Covalent Organic Frameworks (COFs). Unlike the solvent-based approaches, their method enables the control of the properties and growth of novel frameworks, that can be used as highly efficient and sustainable electrocatalysis, said Siamak Nejati, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering. Growth of these frameworks from the vapor phase results in assemblies of macromolecular domains at fast rates with simplified processing, accelerating the discovery of new materials with transformational properties.

So far, researchers have found that COFs, prepared via their approach, can convert nitrates, a common compound found in industrial wastewater and polluted groundwater, into ammonia. The researchers are now investigating the properties of these materials, such as electrode materials in Zinc-air batteries, fuel cells, and carbon dioxide electrolyzers.


Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering