Dr Katherine B. Holt

Chair of Teaching Committee

  Katherine Holt is Reader in Physical Chemistry and carries out multidisciplinary research in electrochemistry and studies of the solid-solution interface. Her group currently consists of 4 PhD students and 1 MSc student. Research within her group includes the use of electrochemical and spectroscopic techniques to explore how surface functionalities influence performance of carbon electrodes; the solution stability and reactivity of potential electrocatalysts for CO2 reduction; and surface redox and charging processes of insulating materials, of relevance to electrostatic charging and polymer degradation.  She has worked at UCL since 2004 (2004-6: Ramsay Fellow; 2006-11: EPSRC Advanced Research Fellow; 2011-13: Lecturer; 2013: Reader). Before this, she was a postdoctoral research fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, working with Professor Allen J. Bard.   
Summary of research group
  My group is engaged in a number of projects in the area of electrochemistry and interfacial science. As well as conventional electrochemical techniques we use IR spectroscopy and XPS to study surface processes that take place at the solid-solution interface.  We are particularly interested in electron transfer, solvation and other processes that take place at the surface of insulating materials (e.g. polystyrene, diamond). This is of relevance to understanding  mechanisms behind tribocharging and mechanochemistry, as well as probing degradation mechanisms. In addition we are interested in the role that surface functional groups and defects play in the electrochemical performance of carbon electrode materials and carbon nanomaterials (nanodiamond, graphene nanoflakes). 

We collaborate widely with synthetic chemists, investigating the electrochemical properties of organometallic molecules as potential imaging agents and as electrocatalysts. Using in situ spectroelectrochemistry we have investigated surface reactivity of metal oxide and sulphide nanoparticles, of relevance to CO2 reduction. Related to this, we are also developing techniques for the analytical detection of metal nanoparticles in environmental samples. 
Research highlights
Research Facilities
  • Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy 
  •  RSC Harrison Memorial Prize, 2007
  • Member, Royal Society of Chemistry
Research interests

• Redox chemistry of insulating materials and organic polymers.

• Surface redox chemistry of diamond materials.

• ATR-IR spectroscopy of the solid-solution interface.

• Carbon materials in electrochemistry.

• Electrochemistry to monitor respiratory processes in living cells.

• Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy (SECM)

• Cu-dithiocarbamate complexes for intracellular imaging and cancer treatment.

• Electrocatalytic proton reduction using bioinspired hydrogenase enzyme mimics. 

• Reduction of CO2 using metal oxide and sulphide nanoparticle electrocatalysts.  

• Redox chemistry of keratin. 

• Degradation of polymers. 

  • Lecturer – Chemistry for Biologists (Year 1) and Electron Transfer (Year 3)
  • Tutor – Physical Chemistry (Year 2)