Nanosensors for local halide concentrations
1st promotor: Prof. Bert Weckhuysen
2nd promotor: Prof. Alfons van Blaaderen
1st supervisor: Assistant Prof. Freddy Rabouw
Affiliation: Utrecht University
Research theme: Catalyst Diagnostics to Develop More Active Catalysts
Catalysts make the production of chemicals—for example, plastics or fuel—faster and less energy expensive. They usually consist of a highly porous material with a large surface area. The surface contains active reaction sites where the desired chemical reaction can take place. Essential to the operation of a catalyst is the transport of reactants to deep inside the porous structure as well as transport of the products to the outside. The pore structure of many catalysts is very complex with interconnected channels of varying width. As a result, the transport behavior of chemicals through such pores is not yet fully understood.
The goal of this project is to develop nanosensors that change fluorescence color when exposed to halide ions. By embedding these in a pore structure of interest and introducing halide ions, diffusion of the ions into the structure can be followed in real time and with high spatial resolution using optical microscopy. This method will be used to measure the diffusion of ions in samples of increasing complexity, and to compare the results to simulations. This will improve our understanding of diffusion and transport of chemicals on the micro- and nanoscale.
The project will involve chemical synthesis of samples in collaboration with a technician, sensitive optical microscopy and spectroscopy, and custom data analysis and fitting to mathematical models. Experience in programming languages such as Python or similar is recommended.
- Optical microscopy
- Pore structure