Balzan Prize for Detlef Lohse

We are very pleased to announce that Detlef Lohse will be awarded the prestigious Balzan Prize 2018 for his fluid dynamics research. The price, of 750,000 Swiss Francs, will be awarded during an official ceremony in Rome, in November.

According to two eminent jury members, Etienne Ghys (research director of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Lyon) and Carlo Wyss (former director of accelerators at CERN in Geneva), “Professor Lohse is assigned the prize for his exceptional contributions in the most diverse fields of fluid dynamics, such as the transition to turbulent regimes in the Rayleigh-Bénard convection, the study of multi-phase turbulent flow, sonoluminescence, the properties of bubbles and drops down to a microscopic level, micro and nano fluidics”.

Congratulations, Detlef, on this wonderful news!


Read more on the news page of University of Twente, or on the website of NWO in English or Dutch.


10 September 2018

New colleague: Daan van Arcken

Hello members of the MCEC Community,

My name is Daan van Arcken. I have recently joined the MCEC office in Utrecht as Communications Assistant. Before this, I worked as a bike messenger for De Fietskoerier Utrecht. I actually still do that part-time now.

Next to riding my bike, I’ve enjoyed working at many different companies doing many different things. For example, at Kugler Publications I was in charge of the digital publication process. I made sure deadlines were met, in-text citations referred to actual sources and the result looked somehow professional in the end.

My role at the MCEC Office will be to assist the program coordinator Nina and communications officer Christine. I am very enthusiastic about joining the MCEC team. I’ve already had the chance to meet some of the research group in Utrecht and I look forward to visiting Eindhoven and Enschede soon.

If you have any questions, want to go out for a bike ride or talk about music feel free to contact me at or via LinkedIn.

MCEC Call for 38 PhD candidates

MCEC is looking for highly motivated and creative PhD candidates in the fields of Chemistry, Physics and/or Engineering, who aspire to jointly and multidisciplinary address one of the grand challenges of today: sustainable energy conversion.

Please visit this page for more information (temporarily also accessible via the menu above, via Home).


20 July 2018

MCEC publishes in PNAS: Hot nanoparticles produce giant and explosive bubbles

When gold nano particles in water are illuminated by a laser, they get very hot: well above the boiling point of water. The formation of vapour bubbles caused by this, is well-known. New experiments, however, using a very high speed camera, now show that before this, a bubble is formed that is much larger and, subsequently, explodes violently. For energy conversion of the particles to the liquid they are in, this discovery of early phase dynamics is very important. MCEC researchers now publish these new results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS).

Nanoparticles locally speed up the boiling of water when laser light illuminates them. At the surface of the particles, electrons collectively oscillate. Vaporization via these so-called ‘plasmons’ is much stronger than in case you would just locally heat the water using a laser. Until now, the ‘early youth’ of this bubble formation was not taken into account, while this first phase of nucleation and early dynamics determines the subsequent phases to a high extent.

Brandaris camera

Until now, the bubble behavior was studied at time scales of milliseconds. Thanks to the very fast camera ‘Brandaris128’, developed by the University of Twente, it is now possible to look even at the nanosecond timescale. A little while after the nanoparticle heats up, a bubble is formed that is a hundred times bigger in volume than the later bubbles. This bubble explodes, followed by smaller bubbles oscillating. In the end, the well-known mechanism takes over, of bubbles that grow by vaporization of water and by diffusion of the gas that is dissolved in water.

Pure vapour

Intuitively, you would expect the size of this initial giant bubble getting bigger with a higher laser power on the nanoparticle. In reality, it is the other way round. At a lower laser power, it takes more time for the bubble formation to start, but this is explosive. The size is also determined by the amount of gas in water: ‘gas poor water’ gives larger bubbles. Here, also the delay plays a role. Experiments and calculations show that the giant bubble is a pure vapour bubble and not a gas bubble: the maximum volume is linearly dependent of the energy.

Effective catalysts

By controlling the early-start dynamics and violence, the applications of the nanoparticles can further be exploited. The bubbles enhance energy conversion, but the explosive growth could even cause damage in surrounding tissue, in medical applications. Nano particles will be used as catalysts, for speeding up chemical reactions. For this application, the newly discovered explosive growth can be an advantage.

The research has been done within MCEC.  Contributors to the paper are from University of Twente, MESA+ and TechMed institutes, specifically the groups: Physics of Fluids, BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip, Physics of Interfaces and Nanomaterials,  as well as the Inorganic Chemistry and Catalysis group from Utrecht University.

The paper Giant and explosive plasmonic bubbles by delayed nucleation’, by Yuliang Wang, Mikhail Zaytsev, Guillaume Lajoinie, Hai Le The, Jan Eijkel, Albert van den Berg, Michel Versluis, Bert Weckhuysen, Xuehua Zhang, Harold Zandvliet en Detlef Lohse, appeared July 12 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). 



This text is derived from the article written by Wiebe van der Veen, press relations University of Twente.
This article was first published on the website of UT and contains two video’s showcasing the bubble formation. Click here for the English version or the Dutch version of that article.


12 July 2018

Emiel Hensen awarded Take-off proposal grant

The NWO Domain Applied and Engineering Sciences had granted Emiel Hensen (TU/e) with a Take-off proposal grant for Vertoro. This start-up valorises the catalytic process for lignin depolymerisation, as developed bij Emiel Hensen and his team at Eindhoven University of Technology.

Lignin is a waste stream of bioethanol plants and paper mills. Vertoro, a spin-off of the InSciTe consortium Emiel Hensen is board member of, aims to scale up the above mentioned chemical process, to produce a so-called crude lignin oil (CLO). This oil will then serve as platform for resins, chemicals and fuels – just like fossil crude oil, but made out of waste.  At the start of 2019, a pilot plant will be ready at Brightlands Chemelot Campus in Geleen.

We congratulate Emiel Hensen and his team on this award!

L.t.r.: Michael Boot (TU/e fellow and Vertoro CEO), Panos Kouris (TU/e PhD and Vertoro CTO) and Emiel Hensen (Dean of the TU/e department of Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, and MC MT member).


You can read more about Vertoro and/or InSciTe here.


2 July 2018




MCEC PhDs in the limelight

MCEC is more than a research center: amongst other things, it aims to train its PhDs in reaching out to the public, by explaining complex research content to a general audience (from secondary school students to retirees with an interest in the matter, and anyone beyond and inbetween). PhDs who would like to practice their communication skills can do so by joining the team of authors and vloggers behind, or gain experience as a teacher by giving guest lectures.

Over the last two years, several MCEC PhDs have voluntarily contributed to the success of MCEC as a research center that not only crosses the frontiers of three universities and disciplines, but also reaches out from academia to society. We thought it high time to acknowledge their efforts.

First in line were Hai Le-The (UT), Anne-Eva Nieuwelink (UU), Álvaro Moreno Soto (UT) and Robin Geitenbeek (UU).
We sincerely thank you for your great work and we hope to see and read a lot from you in the future!



8 May 2018


Emiel Hensen elected as Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry

Emiel Hensen has been admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC). The Fellow status is awarded to individuals who have “made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of the chemical sciences; or to the advancement of the chemical sciences as a profession; or have been distinguished in the management of a chemical sciences organization.

Our sincere wishes on this great assignment!



4 May 2018

Petra Keijzer winner of the MCEC Poster Prize 2018

Petra Keijzer (UU) is this year’s winner of the MCEC Poster Prize, awarded at the Annual Meeting. Her poster, titled Fundamental study on the synthesis of supported silver catalysts using melt infiltration, was chosen by the poster prize committee: Sander Huisman (UT), Jan Philipp Hofmann (TU/e), and Jovana Zečević UU).

An interview with Petra can be found here: Petra Keijzer Poster Prize Winner 2018

The MCEC Annual Meeting 2018 was held in The Gallery, Enschede. The programme consisted of lectures by tenure trackers Sander Huisman and Freddy Rabouw (UU), and an invited evening lecture by Barry Fitzgerald (TU Delft) on The Secrets of Superhero Science.

Throughout the two-day meeting, 20-minute presentations on the progress of their scientific work were held by fourteen of our PhDs/PDs and another twenty-three PhDs presented a poster. The Annual Meeting was also a good moment to introduce four new PhDs Alejo Aguirre, Vamsi Spardan Arza, Maarten Bransen and Valerii Muravev.

The organization would like to thank all participants for their attendance and contribution.

4-5 April, 2018


DPI grant for Florian Meirer and Bert Weckhuysen

The Dutch Polymer Institute (DPI) in its DPI 2.0 Call for Proposals has granted Bert Weckhuysen, Florian Meirer and Elena Groppo (University of Turin) a joint research program entitled Multi-scale investigation of silica-supported ethylene polymerization catalysts during the early stages of the reaction.

The project aims to research polymerization catalysts in the early stages of the genesis of active sites and polymer formation by a multi-scale characterization approach under reaction conditions. The goal is to link the macroscopic physical and chemical properties with nanoscopic chemical properties.

4 April, 2018

Emiel Hensen and Bert Weckhuysen receive grant for ‘Chemergy’ research

The Alliance Fund between Utrecht University and Eindhoven University of Technology has awarded Bert Weckhuysen and Emiel Hensen 2 M euros for setting up a Virtual Research Institute (VRI) that integrates relevant expertise of both institutes.

The VRI has the ambition to become a leading institute in the field of energy technologies relevant to a fossil-free, low-carbon society. The focus will be on the further development of electrochemical energy conversion processes, with two interlinked research lines, namely inorganic electrochemistry and biomass-based electrochemistry. The VRI plans to strengthen the local MSc education programmes by offering a ‘Chemergy’ specialisation programme.

4 April, 2018