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The gastprofessoraat ‘Nanostructured Materials’ is positioned at Hasselt University (UHasselt) in the Faculty of Sciences, Department of Chemistry and the Institute for Materials Research (imo-imomec). The gastprofessoraat is hosted by the research group Inorganic and Physical Chemistry (IPC), which is headed by prof. dr. M. K. Van Bael and prof. dr. A. Hardy. This research group is experienced in the design, synthesis and characterization of advanced inorganic materials and coatings, mostly metal oxides. The gastprofessoraat ‘Nanostructured Materials’ bridges the expertise in design, synthesis and characterization of advanced inorganic materials and coatings, to two areas of application which are of strategic interest for TNO and Brightlands Materials Center: sunlight-fueled sustainable chemical processes, and building envelope materials for sustainable buildings.
In the field of sunlight-fueled chemistry, the primary focus is on the design of inorganic catalysts for photohydrogenation of CO2 to C1-chemicals and fuels like CH4 and CO. This field of research can be successfully exploited through coupling of the expertise in preparation of inorganic materials at UHasselt to the expertise in catalysis and plasmonics made available by me and supported by further competences and infrastructure available from the TNO departments Materials Solutions (Eindhoven/Geleen) and Optics (Delft). The focus of this research is the elucidation of the reaction mechanism and underlying physical principles of plasmon catalytic chemical conversions. This knowledge can then be applied by TNO for rational optimization of sunlight-fueled chemical processes.
In the field of building envelope materials for sustainable buildings, the primary focus is on materials and coatings that provide advanced solar control functionalities to architectural glazing units, and materials and coatings for improving the optical efficiency and/or aesthetics of building-integrated photovoltaic modules. This field of research can be successfully exploited through coupling of the expertise in preparation and in-depth characterization of inorganic materials at UHasselt and the expertise in functional coatings and nano-pigmented polymer films available from me. This is supported by further competences and infrastructure available from the TNO departments Materials Solutions (Eindhoven/Geleen) and Optics (Delft). Multiple products/functionalities are part of this research line, with as current prototypical example thermochromic coatings for solar control glazing, addressing following key research questions: (A) How can dopants effectively be integrated in thermochromic VO2 crystals, to lower the switching temperature from 68°C to 20-30°C with minimum negative impact on the solar modulation? (B) Which balance between transmission in the visible and solar modulation behaviour is achievable for nanoporous thermochromic VO2 coatings on glass, which are produced through packing of VO2 nanoparticles? This knowledge can be applied by TNO and Brightlands Materials Center for rational optimization of solar control windows for architectural glazing.
My research contributes closely to the TNO roadmap ‘Sustainable Chemical Industry’ and Brightlands Materials Center.