Nitrogen is a very unreactive molecule which is mainly due to the high dissociation enthalpy of the triple bond in dinitrogen. The fundamental principles of industrial nitrogen fixation have barely been touched for more than 100 years. Moreover, the latter (Haber Bosch process) is an energy intensive process and is associated with high CO2 emissions. In view of the increasing CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, ongoing energy transition, and the development of novel energy concepts for the conversion of small molecules, alternative methods for artificial N2 fixation are in demand. Especially, the electrocatalytic nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) is a possible approach for future sustainable and delocalized ammonia production from nitrogen and water at ambient temperature and pressure. Our research deals with the synthesis of novel electrocatalysts based on porous carbon materials and and potential benefits arising from pore-embedded ionic liquids. The latter will be intensively studied as catalysts in the NRR in order to illuminate the underlying electrochemical mechanisms.
Your work will consist of two main parts:
1) Syntheses of novel electrocatalysts based on porous carbon materials including advanced materials synthesis as well as material characterization (gas physisorption methods, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Raman spectroscopy, electron microscopy (SEM/TEM), small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS))
2) Application of synthesized catalysts in the Nitrogen reduction reaction (NRR) including investigation and improvement of different cell setups and in-depth analysis of electrochemical mechanisms using advanced analytical methods including spectroscopy and NMR experiments.
1 PhD position