The core of our research program is surface engineering and electrochemistry for electrocatalyst, electrochemical sensors and corrosion applications. We use a wide range of synthesis (2D and 3D) and post-processing methods, e.g. wet-chemistry and evaporation, as well as characterizations, e.g. (local)electrochemistry as well as X-ray and electron spectroscopy. Our projects represent a balance between fundamentals and applications, some of which are being transitioned to industry. We are highly interdisciplinary with MSc, PhD and postdoc researchers with materials science, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, and physics backgrounds.
Our research focuses on electrochemistry and surface science and engineering. In particular, we work on materials processing, i.e. deposition, surface doping, surface functionalization, as well as materials characterizations, i.e. surface and interface analysis and DC and AC electrochemical spectroscopies. Below are a few examples of past/current project highlights:
Our research on the electrochemical reduction of CO2 to synthetic fuel using 2D/3D (nano)materials is multidisciplinary as several parameters at the interface between the electrocatalyst and electrolyte interplay. The research crosses disciplines where deep knowledge of electrochemistry, chemistry, physics, and materials is demanded. Towards an efficient electrochemical reduction of CO2, several research questions shall be answered. The research objectives are to tune the band-gap structure/improve conductivity, reduce the surface recombination, improve the surface selectivity, reduce surface poisoning, maximize the mass transport, and increase the electrode durability.
• Surface and defect engineering of 2D/3D materials for CO2 electrochemical reduction.
• Fabrication of metal-organic frameworks (MOF)s for CO2 electrochemical reduction.
• 2D metal-organic frameworks (MOF)s for CO2 electrochemical reduction.
• Gas diffusion electrodes (GDE)s for CO2 electrochemical reduction.
Identification of the wastewater composition is an essential step in water treatment. Due to adverse effects on human health and the environment, strict regulations are set forth for certain ions and concentrations in wastewater. Electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) possesses great potential in providing live and quantitative data about water composition. To this end, we conduct systematic physiochemical analysis of the surfaces & interfaces using model aqueous solutions. Also, we design and fabricate EIS sensors using deposition and lithography methods. We also collaborate with external groups for data reading and prediction using artificial intelligence (AI).
• Detection of heavy metal ions using EIS
Most of the protective coatings do not provide a perfect barrier against the ingress of moisture and oxygen. In particular, the introduction of mechanical defects during the life cycle of the coated metal may provide direct access of corrosive species to the polymer-metal interface. Active protection against corrosion could be a solution for coating deterioration. This could be by incorporation of film-forming agents and/or corrosion inhibitors in the coating and timely their release in case of defect or damage of the coating. Nowadays, the leaching mechanism is a key feature in state-of-the-art active corrosion protection ensuring interaction with the substrate and protection of the substrate from the aggressive environment and corrosion. We mechanistically study local electrochemical behaviours in and around coating defects, screened by advanced high-throughput testing, together with complementary local surface analyses. Also, we explore the interfacial bonding mechanisms between the polymer coating and metal surfaces versus the metal surface and coating paraments.
• Self-healing coatings for corrosion protection
Major labs facilities:
- Atomic Layer Deposition (ALD)
- Physical Vapor Deposition (PVD)
- X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS)
- Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES)
- Secondary Ion Mass Spectrometry (SIMS)
- DC & AC Electrochemical Spectroscopies
- Local Electrochemical Spectroscopies