We are a young group at Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen, studying the relations between atomic structure, properties and the synthesis of new nanomaterials. Our aim is to obtain an atomistic understanding of new advanced materials, taking us to the point where we can make ‘materials by design’ – materials tailored to give specific properties for applications in e.g. catalysis, solar cells and other energy technologies.
The group is led by Kirsten Marie Ørnsbjerg Jensen, associate professor at Department of Chemistry, University of Copenhagen.
Nanomaterials for energy
Nanomaterials play a large role in the development of new technologies for energy storage and conservation, ranging from solar cells, batteries to catalysis. In other fields, such as sensors, ‘smart’ windows and new electronics, nanomaterials are known to be equally important. The properties of materials are highly dependent on both the atomic arrangement and the nanostructure of the material, and it is therefore crucial to be able to precisely control particle characteristics during synthesis.
We use new methods in nanomaterial synthesis, combining traditional solid state chemistry with new techniques from organic and inorganic chemistry to form novel nanomaterials with tailormade characteristics and properties. We are particularly interested in ultrasmall nanoparticles and clusters with dimensions below 5 nm, where the atomic structure and material properties are fundamentally different from bulk.
X-ray and neutron scattering for nanomaterial characterization
The development of materials for sustainable energy such as catalysis, solar cells and batteries builds on an intricate understanding of the relation between material structure and properties. Only by knowing the atomic arrangement can the mechanisms responsible for material properties be elucidated and new materials developed.
We use X-ray and neutron scattering to study the atomic structure of materials. By combining traditional crystallographic methods with new total scattering techniques, we are able to elucidate the structures even in ultrasmall nanoparticles, where the atomic arrangement differ significantly from the bulk.
Understanding the formation of nanoparticles – watching materials form with X-rays
X-ray total scattering allows strutural information to be obtained from both amorphous and crystalline samples; liquids as well as solids. By using X-ray total scattering in situ during nanoaparticle formation i.e. by taking X-ray data while the synthesis takes place, we are able to follow the structural transformation that takes place as the atoms arrange to form ordered nanoparticles. This gives us new insight into reaction mechanisms, taking us one step closer to ‘materials by design’.