Pillar B


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  • Develop next-generation technologies that efficiently  harvest and convert the energy of the sun into solar fuels
  • Requires breakthroughs in material design strategies
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Single-Site Photocatalysis

  • Reduce catalyst amount to individual atoms for maximizing efficiency and reducing cost

Organic-Inorganic Hybrids

  • Combine the best of organics and inorganics via artificial antennas harvesting sunlight and transferring energy to the catalyst

Task Leaders & Team

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Principal Investigators and links to their websites

Davide Bonifazi: targeted-oriented synthesis for the preparation of functional organic structures. His studies demonstrate key functions or basic concepts in supramolecular chemistry exploiting non-covalent interactions and photochemistry.

One PhD1 will tackle the synthesis of tailored chromophores featuring strong absorption properties in the Vis range and that are chemically and thermally stable to be inserted in operative light-harvesting architectures. Another PhD will perform the synthesis of the templated architectures (e.g., peptide and polymers) and tackle the functionalization of the antenna for integrating the photocatalytic units (either organic or organometallic catalysts) to trigger the solar-powdered photo transformations. PD will oversee the integration of the light-harvesting systems with the catalyst and perform the photocatalytic studies of CO2 and/or H2O splitting to devise an operative demonstrator and will interface with researchers within the Pillars.

Alexey Cherevan: all-inorganic molecular (homogeneous), solid-state (heterogeneous), and hybrid (their combination) photocatalytic systems. His interests include their synthesis, optoelectronic characterization, and activity evaluation.

PhD1 will work on the topic of thiometalate and oxometalate cluster heterogenization. For this, the synthesis of such clusters and fabrication of photocatalytic supports will be tackled. PhD2 will focus on the topic of single-site photocatalysis. For this, the development of photocatalytic supports with well-defined chemistry and stabilization of catalytic centers on their surface will be pursued. PD will design and implement photocatalytic experiments toward water splitting, CO2 reduction, and N2 fixation reactions.

Ulrike Diebold: in situ surface physics. She conducts experiments on precisely controlled model systems. The results give fundamental, atomic-scale insights that interface well with first-principles computational modeling.

The PD will work on the growth and (surface and materials) characterization of epitaxial ferroelectric thin films that also will be made available to other groups. One PhD will work on cleaved single crystals and their characterization using surface science techniques, one PhD will work on the epitaxial films. The PD will oversee the implementation of the PL and photoexcitation experiments in existing UHV chambers that will be used to directly study polarons, de/excitation, and charge transfer, and will interface with researchers in Pillars A and C.

Dominik Eder: synthesis and characterization of molecular inorganics, inorganic and carbon nanostructures (1D, 2D), mesoporous materials, and hybrid organic/inorganic framework structures. He applies operando spectroscopy for mechanistic studies and their evaluation in photo/electrocatalytic applications.

PhD 1 will work on the incorporation of guest compounds in SELIRE modified MOFs with focus on characterisation with PL/TRES. PhD 1 will work on the synthesis of novel MOFs with prefunctionalised ligands and focus on structure-property relationships. The Postdoc will start with SELIRE modified MOFs and then use operando DRIFTS spectroscopy to explore reaction mechanisms for CO2 reduction.

Gareth Parkinson: fundamental processes occurring in catalytic reactions. His group performs scanning probe and spectroscopy experiments using single-crystal samples to understand reactions in a highly-controlled ultrahigh vacuum environment. 

One PhD student will work as part of Pillar A synthesizing and characterizing Single Atom Alloy systems in UHV using scanning probe microscopy and various spectroscopies. The second will perform ostensibly similar experiments but on metal oxide single-crystal systems for single-atom photocatalysts in Pillar B. The PD will design and construct a high-pressure cell to allow the reactivity of the UHV-prepared systems to be studied in more realistic environments.

Katharina Schröder: sustainable organic chemistry and design, synthesis and application of ionic liquids. She focuses on i) on carbon capture and valorization techniques, particularly photocatalytic CO2 activation, (ii) novel catalytic processes for asymmetric synthesis, and (iii) recovery by advanced fluid technologies.

One PhD will then work on the coating of semiconductor support materials with molecular catalysts and different ionic liquids (SILP and SCILL systems), the second one will perform fundamental studies and analytics on ionic liquid – single atom grafted materials as catalysts. The Postdoc will work on the design and set-up of reactor design for photocatalysis in continuous flow (gas and supercritical phase), particularly for CO2 reduction to CO, methanol and methane.