Design of thin-film nanocatalysts for on-chip fuel cell technology

Prof. Jörg Libuda

Physical Chemistry II group
Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy
Faculty of Natural Sciences
Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU)

The Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU), founded in 1743, today is one of the leading research-universities in Germany. In 2010, FAU managed to secure a total of 124 M€ of third party funding for research. With 33000 students (3000 international, 9000 first year, 4400 graduate students, 49.8% female), 12000 members of staff, and 640 professorships, it is one of the 12 largest universities in Germany and the second largest in Bavaria. The Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy (DCP) currently hosts 29 professorships at 12 chairs. In the summer term 2012 at total of 230 first year students were registered for the courses in chemistry (B.Sc.) and Molecular Science (B.Sc.). The compelling research at the DCP has received top rankings in many surveys.

Research at the Chair of Physical Chemistry II focuses on spectroscopy and reactivity of new materials, surfaces, and interfaces. Currently, the Chair hosts 58 employees including technical and administrative staff and three independent research groups (Prof. Steinrück, Prof. Libuda, Prof. Fink), closely collaborating in a numerous projects. The service environment includes a mechanical workshop specialized in instrumentation development, an electronics workshop, and service personnel for vacuum equipment/network administration. The scientific equipment includes a broad spectrum of surface spectroscopies and reactor methods including e.g. laboratory and synchrotron XPS, high-pressure XPS, UPS, ISS, STM, SEM, TPS/TPRS, IRAS, DRIFTS, PM-IRAS, TIRS, several molecular beam (MB) systems, GC, MS, and many other methods.

The project member team's PI is Prof. Joerg Libuda, whose expertise is centered around the mechanism, kinetics, and dynamics of chemical reactions on complex surfaces, with a special focus on applications in heterogeneous catalysis, environmental catalysis, and energy technology. Mechanistic and kinetic studies are performed from ultrahigh vacuum conditions up to atmospheric pressure and complemented by microkinetic modeling. The scientific group of the PI currently consists of 10 persons, including two experienced postdoctoral scientists who will be part of the project teams. The required additional laboratory and office space for the group has been provided in connection with the Excellence Cluster ‘Engineering of Advanced Materials’ (a new EAM research building (14 M€) has been completed in 2012). 

The role of FAU within the project will be in the located in the field of experimental model catalysis and in-situ/operando spectroscopy. The core project team will constitute of two subteams. The first subteam will be led by a postdoctoral scientist with strong expertise in surface science. The person in charge will be Dr. Yaroslava Lykhach, expert in the field of surface science. The scientist will be supported by PhD students, Master students and undergraduate research students. The team will be responsible for the model catalysis part, including surface spectroscopy and MB work in UHV. The second team part will be led by a postdoctoral researcher experienced in in-situ/operando spectroscopy, Dr. Mathias Laurin. He will be supported by PhD, Master students and undergraduate research students. This second team part will operate the operando/in-situ FTIR systems and reactor facilities and will be responsible for setting up the additional electrospectrochemical ATR-FTIR reactor cell in the first project phase.

The required experimental infrastructure is already available and operational. Available systems include a multi MB system (0.8 M€, operational since 2007) including 5 MB sources (supersonic, pulsed, HT-source, chopped, TOF detection), facilities for IRAS (time-resolved, step-scan, rapid scan, polarization-dependent), TPD/TPRD, all sample preparation and characterization tools (e.g. e-beam evaporators, LEED, AES, vacuum sample transfer). The second set of equipment is an in-situ/operando reactor facility (0.5 M€, operational since 2010) providing several spectroscopic reactors for IRAS, PM-IRAS, operando-DRIFTS, operando-TIRS with fast laser-heating, online-QMS, and online-GC detection. An additional instrumentation grant for a UHV-IRAS facility (0.4 M€) has been approved and the system will be available by 2013. In addition, a broad spectrum of surface science techniques is available through cooperation in the framework of the Interdisciplinary Center Interface Controlled Processes ICICP, chaired by the PI. The available methods in the ICICP include e.g. UHV-STM, UHV-AFM, LT-STM, STS, LEED, IV-LEED, UHV-SAM, UHV SEM, UHV EBID, PEEM, NEXAFS, micro-NEXAFS, TR-IRAS, IRAS, PM-IRAS, MB methods, XPS, HP-XPS, UPS, SR-PES, RPES, AES,TPD, electrochemical STM, fs-laser spectroscopy, 2PPE, X-ray reflectometry, GIXRD, EPR, UV-VIS-NIR, photoluminescence spectroscopy, and TOF-SIMS.