Research Group Information
The section MECS (Materials for Energy Conversion and Storage) develops new materials for sustainable energy applications. The relationship between preparation, structure and properties of materials is central. Our approach is application-driven, but also has a fundamental, "curiosity-driven" component. It is precisely the combination of these approaches that leads to new insights and applications.
An important theme in our group is hydrogen. This is an important energy carrier. It produces a great deal of energy during combustion. This energy carrier must of course be made in a sustainable way: that is why we are working on the (photo-)electrochemical conversion of water. In this process, we divide water into oxygen and hydrogen by means of sunlight or electrical voltage. In order to guarantee the safety of hydrogen applications, we are conducting research into optical hydrogen sensors.
The next step in the development of artificial fuels is the electrochemical formation of hydrocarbons from CO2. Likewise, we want to form ammonia from nitrogen and hydrogen in an electrochemical way.
For these applications we develop thin layer materials (1 - 100 nm), varying from ultrathin, smooth multilayers to layers consisting of upright nanowires. We do this with a wide range of thin film deposition techniques such as PLD (Pulsed Laser Deposition), Microwave sputter deposition, ALD (Atomic Layer Deposition), Spray Pyrolysis and Electrodeposition. For the characterization we use various optical, electronic and structural methods (Raman, Ellipsometry, X-ray diffraction, conductivity measurements, etc.). In addition to the thin films, we also make nano-particles using 'spark erosion'.
We have a 'flat' group in which every scientific employee (Fokko Mulder, Wilson Smith, Bernard Dam) has his own research line. In order to maintain the mutual bond, we drink coffee together, have a Wednesday afternoon drink, and organise activities such as a joint ice skating lesson.