Research topic: advanced materials
Research group: Green Energy Initiative
People involved: Mark Huijben
Materials research, fundamental as well as applied, plays a central role in the development of more efficient and cost effective energy applications, such as fuel cells, solar cells, batteries, thermo-electrics, gas separators and systems for the production of solar fuels. The design and fabrication of innovative, advanced materials is required in all sections of the chain of energy, i.e. from conversion, transport and storage up to the consumers’ utilization. Within the MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology advanced materials are designed and studied on the nano-scale with the unique potential for decisive technological breakthroughs in materials research. The range of applications in the energy sector comprises gradual short and medium-term improvements for a more efficient use of conventional and renewable energy sources as well as completely new long-term approaches for energy recovery and utilization. One topic of rapidly expanding materials research at the University of Twente is aimed at the development of solar fuel technology, which aims at the conversion of solar energy in chemical energy. The combination of conventional solar cell technology with inexpensive electrolysis cells are examined, as well as other systems in which sun light, CO2 and H2O can be transformed at the same time. The development and optimization of new semiconductor systems with catalytic functionality is pursued. Furthermore, photovoltaic materials are shaped by micro-reactor technology and combined with catalytic functionality. Materials research for energy applications, such as solar fuel technology, offers numerous opportunities for scientific and applied collaborations between academia and industry within the Netherlands, but also abroad.