MESA+ University of Twente
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Sergio Benito Pacheco (promotion date: 26 October 2011)

Carbon nanofiber layers on metal and carbon substrates

PEM fuel cell and microreactor applications

Promotion date: 26. October 2011

Promotor: Prof. dr. ir. Leon Lefferts

Carbon nanofibers (CNFs) are small graphitic materials with diameters smaller than a hundred nanometers, with a high surface area and inertness.

The growth and immobilization of CNF layers directly on micro-structured substrates, is interesting to avoid the risk of breathing loose CNFs and facilitate the production of functional substrates.

Moreover, the mechanical strength and permeability of the substrate is enhanced by the growth of a CNF layer, which is further used as catalyst support.

This thesis describes the preparation of CNF layers on flat and porous substrates and their application as catalyst supports for chemical and electrochemical gas-liquid-solid catalytic reactions. The last part describes the water wettability properties of CNF layers that can have applications in micro-fluidic devices.

Was there a specific moment that you recall, taking place during your thesis project?

I got interesting results already at the beginning of my PhD project. Nevertheless, it took some years to write the results in a coherent story for publications.

Did you manage to have some nice publications or talks on conferences?

Four accepted publications appeared in well-rated magazines. Furthermore, two were submitted and a few are in preparation now, dealing with carbon nanofiber layers on metal substrates, their wettability and application as catalyst supports for fuel cells and water treatments.

How did you develop as a researcher and scientist during these four years of PhD work?

I developed as a curious and meticulous researcher, more publication-oriented now than in the beginning of my PhD period. Also I am a more demanding, critical and independent person now.

What are your future plans?

I am planning to go abroad as a researcher, in a R&D department in industry or at a research centre.

What, in your perception, are strong advantages of working as a Mesa+ researcher?

The equipment and technical staff of Mesa+ are excellent. Also the seminars, workshops and technological colloquia are of exceptional quality at Mesa+. However, I hardly used the cleanrooms in my own research project.

Are there things especially important, in your opinion, for Mesa+ to stay successful in future?

Mesa+ is a well organized institute. The annual Mesa+ conference is very appealing and interesting for PhD students.

The procedures to support or consider patenting new ideas can be improved, I believe.