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    nanoscience and nanotechnology: small is different

Microscopy-based approaches for investigating materials properties and performance

Maarten B.J. Roeffaers
KU Leuven, Belgium
Thursday, 01 June 2023 12:00

Place: conference room, IMDEA Nanociencia.


Solid catalytic materials play a crucial role in modern chemical industry, enabling the energy-efficient and selective generation of base and fine chemicals. However, the traditional approach of measuring catalyst properties and performance as an average value overlooks the variability in materials properties, which can significantly affect their performance. In this talk, I present a microscopy-based approach to investigating the impact of materials structure and function at the nanoscale on the performance of solid catalysts and other advanced functional materials.

We employ dedicated assays and specialized microscopy techniques to uncover the impact of structure and function on catalytic performance at the nanoscale with single reaction turnover sensitivity. By correlating these findings with scanning electron microscopy and Raman spectroscopy, we can rationalize the variations in performance, providing insights that are essential for developing catalysts with improved performance.

In addition to solid catalysts, other advanced functional materials, such as metal-halide perovskites used in solar technology and opto-electronic devices, exhibit similar variability in their properties. While significant progress has been made by studying metal halide perovskite devices, our approach focuses on observing and rationalizing variations in material stability at the microscopic level. This has allowed us to fabricate materials with improved stability, demonstrating the potential impact of this approach on the development of high-performance materials for a variety of applications.

In summary, our microscopy-based approaches provide valuable insights into the impact of materials structure and function on performance, enabling the development of materials with improved properties for a wide range of applications.

Short bio

Maarten B. J. Roeffaers graduated from the Centre for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis, KU Leuven (Belgium), in 2008 studying zeolite catalysis with fluorescence microscopy. After a postdoctoral stay (2009–2010) with Prof. Xie at Harvard University (USA) on the development and use of coherent Raman microscopy, he returned to the KU Leuven. In 2010, he started his own research group (www.roeffaers-lab.org) focusing on the development of optical microscopy tools to study heterogeneous catalysis and materials for sustainable chemistry. Amongst others, he was awarded a prestigious ERC starting grant (2012) and received the biennial ExxonMobil Chemical European Science and Engineering Award (2015) as well as the EFCATS Young Researcher Award (2021).