Overview M&ME groups

The following research groups offer Master’s assignments which are especially interesting for students of the C&PE track. Click on a name to go to the relevant information.

Biomaterials Science and Technology (BST)

The group conducts research on (resorbable) polymeric materials and structures for use in medical devices and in delivery of relevant biologically active compounds, (bio)artificial organs, cell-material interactions and tissue engineering. From our work on flexible resorbable materials, already one spin-off company has been created.

Current research topics include:

  • Preparation of resorbable polymers for medical applications by ring opening polymerization and radical photo-polymerization
  • Composite resorbable materials for fracture reconstruction in maxillofacial surgery.
  • Development of designed advanced microstructures by stereolithography
  • Engineering musculoskeletal and cardiovascular tissues in bioreactors using designed anisotropic scaffold architectures prepared from biologically active materials
  • Membranes for artificial and (bio)artificial kidney devices and tissue eengineering scaffolds
  • Membranes for bioseparations and membrane chromatography.

Bachelor- and Master research assignments can be performed within these areas. Depending on the background and interest of the student, multidisciplinary projects with other research groups within the MIRA and MESA+ institutes can be defined.


Biomolecular NanoTechnology (BNT)

The BNT group aims at understanding some of the basic principles driving the formation of nano-sized objects and nano-structured materials that Nature has created in the course of evolution. The goal is to use biological principles as a guide for the design of self-assembled, multifunctional and responsive materials, in which biomolecules or bio-inspired architectures are used as building blocks. Therefore we apply (macro)-molecular and supramolecular chemistry in combination with molecular biology approaches. For example, we employ protein building blocks to form nanometer-sized reactors and use the highly symmetric properties of these protein cages as scaffolds for functional materials. Techniques used in our laboratory range from synthetic chemistry and protein engineering to physical characterization using state-of-the-art facilities in the MESA+ constellation.

Our group pursues a broad range of research interests. Potential BSc or MSc projects can involve themes such as:

  • Protein isolation, derivatization and assembly
  • (Bio)-catalysis in nanometer confinement
  • Hierarchical self-assembly of nanoparticles and other functional nano-objects
  • Synthesis of novel molecular dopants for adaptive materials


BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip group (BIOS)

The BIOS Lab-on-a-Chip group, which is a member of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, develops miniaturized analytical systems, or so-called Lab-on-a-Chip (LOC) systems, for (bio)medical and environmental applications. For such purposes, LOC systems present a number of advantages such as small sample size, high level of integration, portability, disposability, lower analysis cost, and the enhancement they provide in terms of analysis scheme (e.g., fast analysis and higher sensitivity).

Research conducted in the BIOS, Lab-on-a-Chip Group is highly interdisciplinary, and combines micro- and nanoengineering, physics, electrical/electrochemical measurements, applied biology, analytical chemistry, and surface chemistry.

The research in the BIOS group is specifically organized along 5 lines, led each by a staff member:

  • Electrochemical sensors, led by Dr. Wouter Olthuis
  • Micro- and nanofluidics, led by Prof. Jan Eijkel
  • Nanosensing
  • Cells-on-chip (& BIO-MEMS), led by Dr. Séverine Le Gac
  • Emerging research topics, led by Prof. Albert van den Berg (Chair holder).


Catalytic Processes and Materials (CPM)

CPM explores new catalytic materials, catalytic devices and processes of relevance for industry and society. The drive towards processes is reflected in CPM’s connection to process technology, while preparation and design of micro and nano-structured catalytic materials and devices, is reflected in the participation in MESA+.

The main research projects at CPM are in the field of:

  • Renewable feedstocks: the application of bio-related materials, like organic waste and pyrolysis oil, is a promising route towards green fuels and chemicals. The conversion of bio-oil and related feedstocks requires new catalysts and processes. This area is of significant societal relevance and CPM has been in the forefront of developments.
  • Liquid phase heterogeneous catalysis: the application of solid catalysts in liquid phase reactions becomes increasingly important because of the easy separation of catalyst and products. However, mass transfer in liquids is slow which affects the catalyst’s activity and selectivity. We develop new combinations of catalyst-reactor systems that limit or prevent transport problems.
  • Spectroscopy in liquid phase catalysis: to identify reaction phenomena and improve catalysts for renewable feedstock and water cleaning.
  • Selective oxidation: partial oxidation reactions are a typical example of the need for high-precision catalysis, because usually oxidations have low yields caused by consecutive conversion to undesired side-products. CPM focuses on unconventional methods to achieve higher selectivity.


Inorganic Materials Science (IMS)

The research in the group is focused on establishing a fundamental understanding of the relationship between composition, structure and solid-state physical and chemical properties of inorganic materials, especially oxides. Insights into these relationships enable us to design new materials with improved and yet unknown properties that are of interest for fundamental studies as well as for industrial applications. With the possibility to design and construct artificial materials on demand, new opportunities become available for novel device concepts. The research of the group is strongly embedded in the research orientation on nano-materials and fabrication of MESA+, and cooperates with several research groups in MESA+.

Growth of advanced functional materials by chemical and physical techniques is a core expertise of the group. Oxide nanoparticles, functional nanowires and 2-dimensional nanosheets are made by chemical and electrochemical synthesis routes, and deposited into thin films and micro/nanopatterns using soft lithographic approaches. Thin film growth studies by pulsed laser deposition are a major activity within the group. Especially complex materials, in particular oxides, are being investigated. These belong to different functional material; classes, like ferroelectrics, ferromagnetics and multiferroics, piezo’s, high-K dielectrics, transparent conducting oxides, porous oxides non-linear optical materials, ion conductors, and superconducting and related materials. Research field is in particular focussed on materials with modified properties by doping or by artificial layered structures and superstructures.


Inorganic Membranes (IM)

Activities of the group Inorganic Membranes revolve around energy-efficient molecular separation using inorganic membranes under extreme conditions. The latter include high temperature, elevated pressure, and chemically demanding environments. The group combines materials science on a nanometer length scale with process technology on a macroscopic scale.

Materials science topics include, amongst others:

  • Development of new, sol-gel derived, nano-porous ceramic membranes.
  • Grafting of organic functional groups onto the pore walls of meso-porous ceramics.
  • (Ultra-thin) hybrid organic-inorganic membranes.
  • Dense ionic and mixed ionic-electronic conducting membranes.
  • Inorganic porous scaffolds.

Process technology topics include, amongst others:

  • Fundamentals of transport phenomena in inorganic membranes.
  • In-situ characterization of ultrathin membrane films, e.g., by ellipsometry.
  • Membrane process design.
  • Design and evaluation of membrane reactors and solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC).


Materials Science and Technology of Polymers (MTP)

The MTP group studies a range of topics, which revolve around macromolecular nanotechnology and materials chemistry of nanostructured (macro)molecular materials. MTP’s mission is to discover and establish new approaches, devise and construct tools, and synthesize materials platforms that enable studies of macromolecular structure, behavior and function from the nanometer length scale, bottom up, ultimately in a direct one-to-one control of the molecular objects. This knowledge is utilized to obtain advanced functional macromolecular materials and devices with enhanced or novel properties and functions in targeted applications.

MTP’s current research is dominated by “upstream” generic projects from the nanometer range, across the length scales, aiming at controlled macromolecular synthesis, in combination with nanoscale manipulation and fabrication of complex polymeric architectures (bottom up and top down), their utilization in stimulus responsive architectures, and in devices such as molecular motors, sensors, and actuators. Nanostructured polymers and thin polymer films obtained by MTP are also used in biomedical engineering. Our work brings techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) and single molecule photonics to understand, fabricate, characterize and study functional polymer platforms and supramolecular polymeric materials.

Structure-property (morphology) studies of high-value added, nanostructured polymeric materials complement our work encompassing some direct application-oriented projects, which aim at nanocomposites, polymer surfaces and interfaces, coatings, and (molecular) adhesives and nanostructured foams (spin-off Aerotech BV). This “downstream” research component helps us to keep in touch with industries.


Membrane Science and Technology (MST)

The Membrane Science and Technology group focuses on the multi-disciplinary topic of membranes for the separation of molecular mixtures. We aim at designing membrane morphology and structure on a molecular level to control mass transport phenomena in macroscopic applications. We consider our expertise as a multidisciplinary knowledge chain ranging from molecule to process.

We distinguish three application clusters, i.e. Energy, Water and Life Sciences:

  • Energy: the research on Energy is dedicated to the molecular design and synthesis of polymer membranes for energy applications. Examples are CO2 capture, olefin/paraffin separation, biorefinery applications, fuel cells and the generation of electricity from the mixing of sea and river water (Salinity Gradient Energy or ‘Blue Energy’). Relevant materials science oriented aspects are control of structure-properties relationships, separation of multi-component mixtures (binary, ternary systems, effect of impurities), interaction of the feed components with the membrane (e.g. plasticization) and performance evaluation. Important process technological research aspects are e.g. improvement of hydrodynamics, membrane and spacer design, separation of complex mixtures, concentration polarization and fouling.
  • Water: Within the application area Water, research addresses the development of membranes and the application of membrane technology for water treatment. In particular it investigates the relation between membrane properties, hydrodynamic conditions and fouling behavior.
  • Life Sciences: Within the application cluster Life Sciences, we focus on the design of porous systems to separate complex multicomponent mixtures in pharmaceutical, food, beverage and diagnostics applications. Important subjects are tuning the material properties and structure (e.g. pore morphology and porosity), the development of functional materials (e.g. affinity separations of biomolecules) and the creation of new and/or improved processes (e.g. faster processes, higher yields, less fouling, etc.). Other aspects related to process design and industrial implementation, such as scale-up of novel membrane fabrication methods are investigated.


Mesoscale Chemical Systems (MCS)

In physics and chemistry the mesoscopic scale is the length scale at which one can reasonably discuss material properties or phenomena without having to discuss individual atom behavior. Applied research at this scale is covered by the fields of microreaction technology, microfluidics and nanotechnology. The research approach of MCS, a member of the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology, is to exploit downscaling to enhance conversion and selectivity of chemical reactions and product purification, and to improve chemical analysis on very small sample volumes.

An important research goal is to exploit alternative activation mechanisms for chemical process control and process intensification. This deals with the study of microfluidic systems with inner dimensions in the range 5 to 500 μm, containing nano-materials and integrated electricity-driven elements (electrical fields, ultrasound) to activate and control chemical reactions. The electricity preferably is derived from renewable sources, like solar energy. Applications of this research are in more efficient and more selective, sustainable chemical process routes. Solar-to-fuel conversion is one of the focus topics.

Miniaturization of analytical techniques leads to fast and efficient (low solvent and energy consumption) analysis, but also allows applications "at the point of use" , e.g. next to the hospital bed, in the field, at the crime scene, or connected to an industrial chemical reactor. Techniques which are studied for integration "on a chip" are liquid and gas chromatography, DNA analysis, and spectroscopic techniques like MS, NMR, IR and UV-Vis, including the necessary sample preparation and handling.


Molecular NanoFabrication (MnF)

The research in the MnF group is focused at fundamental and applied studies of assemblies and patterning. The group investigates the possibilities to build molecularly defined, organic and hybrid assemblies in two or three dimensions via non-covalent interactions between the constituents. Key aspects are: multivalency, materials assembly, protein assembly, surface patterning, chemistry in microfluidic channels, macrocyclic ligands for heavy metal ions, and combinations thereof. Applications lie in areas such as: sensing, materials, (nano)electronics, biomolecule arrays and assays, and tissue engineering.

Potential BSc or MSc projects can involve themes such as:

  • host-guest recognition at interfaces
  • protein assembly at interfaces
  • patterning of self-assembled monolayers
  • chemical improvements of soft and imprint lithography
  • chemistry in microfluidic systems
  • ligand synthesis and testing for heavy metal ion complexation


  • Chair: prof.dr.ir. J. Huskens
  • Secretariat: Izabel Can-Katalanc / Nicole Haitjema
  • Email: MNFtnw@utwente.nl
  • Phone: +31 (0)53 489 2980
  • Room: Carré 4.223
  • Website: https://www.utwente.nl/tnw/mnf/
PhotoCatalytic Synthesis (PCS)

Photocatalysis is based on the use of light activated catalysts in chemical conversion. Practical application is limited because of problems in light management, such as mismatch in catalyst sensitivity and solar spectrum, the limited ability of photo-excited states to induce electron transfer reactions, and lack of efficient light exposure of catalysts in reactors. We aim at understanding the role of both the physical and chemical properties of innovative materials in establishing photocatalytic transformations, targeting improved catalyst design. We also study the effect of process conditions and reactor geometry on performance, to establish operation of devices with high efficiency.

The focus of the research program is on:

  • The conversion of solar energy into chemical energy, i.e. to drive thermodynamically uphill reactions such as the synthesis of hydrocarbons by reaction of CO2 with H2O
  • The high selectivities that can be obtained in alkane oxidation over photon excited catalysts
  • Photocatalytic purification of waste streams (air and water)

Several new PhD students have recently started exciting projects in these application areas, funded by among others NanoNextNL, the NRSCC (Netherlands Research School Combination Catalysis), and the TBSC (Towards Bio Solar Cells) program of FOM.


Soft Matter Fluidics & Interfaces (SFI)

Research within the Soft matter, Fluidics and Interfaces group is directed at interfacial phenomena and processes that are relevant for mass and heat transport. We wish to study and exploit fundamental principles where fluid flow encounters structures on a sub-millimeter length scale.

Current topics of interest are:

  • Advanced microreactors: the fabrication and operation of dedicated microreactors, amendable to scaling are investigated. Multiphase reactor systems that incorporate membrane functionality to stabilize interfaces and perform separations are developed.
  • Soft interfaces: liquid-liquid and gas-liquid interfaces are crucial in many chemical processes. Interfacial phenomena, including wetting behavior, interfacial tension (gradients), interfacial curvature, are studied to gain understanding in related transport processes near these interfaces.
  • Micro- and nanofluidics: this topic addresses liquid flow in confined geometries. Its relation to mass and energy transport are studied in both experimental and numerical ways. Special attention is given to boundary layer and concentration polarization phenomena.