Nathan T. Nesbitt is a postdoctoral researcher at NREL. He works on CO2 electrolysis and reactive capture, probing the physics that describe water, CO2, and dissolved ions in the electrode microenvironment. This probing is done by atomic force microscopy-scanning electrochemical microscopy (AFM-SECM), which enables operando measurements at industrially relevant conditions. Nathan earned his bachelor's degree in physics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and completed his doctorate in physics at Boston College on the fabrication of nanostructures for electrocatalysis and plasmonics. Before NREL, Nathan was a postdoc at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. 

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Research Interests

Water and CO2 electrolysis for energy conversion and storage

Operando AFM-SECM of electrodes under realistic electrolyzer conditions

Membrane electrode assembly design and improvement


Ph.D., Physics, Boston College

M.S., Physics, Boston College

B.S., Physics, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Professional Experience

Academic Experience

Co-Instructor, ETH Zurich Atomic Force Microscopy Summer Course (2019)

Postdoctoral Researcher, Delft Technical University (2018–2019)

Intern, Environmental Protection Agency (2010)

Advisory Boards

Subcommittee Chair, Materials Research Society Nelson “Buck” Robinson Science and Technology Award for Renewable Energy (2019–present)

Council Member, Massachusetts Envirothon (2014–2018)

Associations and Memberships

Member, Materials Research Society

Featured Work

Water and Solute Activities Regulate CO2 Reduction in Gas-Diffusion Electrodes, J. Phys. Chem C (2021) 

Operando Topography and Mechanical Property Mapping of CO2 Reduction Gas-Diffusion Electrodes Operating at High Current Densities, J. Electrochem. Soc. (2021)

Liquid-Solid Boundaries Dominate Activity of CO2 Reduction on Gas-Diffusion Electrodes, ACS Catal. (2021) 

Electrochemical CO2 Reduction Over Bimetallic Au−Sn Thin Films: Comparing Activity and Selectivity Against Morphological, Compositional, and Electronic Differences, J. Phys. Chem. C (2020)

Facile Fabrication and Formation Mechanism of Aluminum Nanowire Arrays, Nanotechnology (2019)

On-Chip Electrochemical Detection of Cholera Using a Polypyrrole-Functionalized Dendritic Gold Sensor, ACS Sensors (2019)

Au Dendrite Electrocatalysts for CO2 Electrolysis, J. Phys. Chem. C (2018)

A Review: Methods To Fabricate Vertically Oriented Metal Nanowire Arrays, Ind. Eng. Chem. Res. (2017)

Wireless Communication System via Nanoscale Plasmonic Antennas, Nature Sci. Rep. (2016)

Aluminum Nanowire Arrays via Directed Assembly, Nano. Lett. (2015)


Aluminum Nanowire Arrays and Methods of Preparation and Use Thereof, U.S. Patent No. US20160258069A1 (2016)

Awards and Honors

National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow (2013)