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Advertising division: ER-C - Ernst Ruska-Centre for Microscopy and Spectroscopy with Electrons
Reference number: D055/2018, Physics, Material science, or Chemistry

Master Thesis: Identical location measurements of transition metal based catalysts for electrochemical applications

Start of work: As soon as possible

Electrochemical conversion reactions like the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen, the reduction of CO2 to synthetic fuels or fine chemical precursors and the reconversion of hydrogen via fuel cells are important building blocks for a future sustainable energy supply. These reactions, however, are catalysed by expensive precious metals. Thus, a balance between investment costs, the activity of the catalyst system and the durability thereof has to be found.

The correlation between activity and the microstructural shape and/or composition of the catalyst and the study of the durability of the catalyst system can be investigated via (scanning) transmission electron microscopy (S) TEM. With the help of the identical location TEM, catalyst particles at identical positions can be investigated before and after electrochemical degradation protocol. In this way, a decrease of the activity and/or the active surface area can be correlated with structural or compositional changes of the catalyst.

Your work will be embedded in the international team of electron microscopists at the Ernst-Ruska-Centre, which one of the world's most advanced centres for electron microscopy and nanocharacterisation.

Your task
The main goal of this thesis will be the statistical evaluation of the identical location TEM method. After being trained to use a TEM and electrochemical equipment, the candidate will employ standard accelerated aging protocols on a standard platinum based catalyst and analyse the effect of the carbon support, the position of the observed catalyst agglomerate on the catalyst degradation and the potential range on the catalyst.

Tasks that should be dealt with in the thesis:

  • Literature research on reaction mechanisms of the above mentioned reactions, catalyst degradation and identical location TEM
  • Conducting experiments on the transmission electron microscope and electrochemical experiments
  • Statistical analysis of the above mentioned parameters on the particle degradation/reproducibility

Your profile

  • Very good academic records in chemistry, material sciences or physics.
  • Basic knowledge of transmission electron microscopy and electrochemistry.
  • Good experimental skills.
  • High individual motivation

Contact person:
Dr. Paul Paciok
Forschungszentrum Jülich
Ernst Ruska-Centre