Mesoscale Chemical Systems

Research on electricity-driven activation mechanisms, using electricity from renewable energy sources, is a core activity of the Mesocale Chemical Systems group (MCS) headed by Han Gardeniers. Combined with downscaling and integration of unit chemical operations, enhanced yield and selectivity of chemical reactions and product purification, and improved analysis of mass-limited chemical and biological samples is achieved.

Introduction to group activities

The research focuses on the themes Alternative activation mechanisms for chemical process control and process intensification and Miniaturization of chemical analysis systems. A special interest is in periodic mesoscale structures, where the periodicity leads to improvements in chemical process throughput and selectivity, because such structures align the size scale of elemental reaction and mass/heat/electron transport processes with their respective time scales, and reduces the residence time distribution in a chemical processing unit. Effort is planned in the development of advanced additive manufacturing methods for functional mesoscale metamaterials for chemical process engeneering and sustainable energy (with a focus on solar energy). 3D nanostructuring using more conventional nanotechnology are developed further for biochemical and sustainable energy research. Because of the small distances over which chemical processes occur in mesoscale structures, it becomes possible to apply new concepts for activation of chemical reactions, for example, using ultrasound or electrical fields. In this way, processes can be intensified and more sustainable routes for chemical processing can be achieved. An example is solar-to-fuel conversion, in which solar light, via electrons and surface electrochemistry, is used to generate hydrogen gas, or in future, convert carbon dioxide to alcohols or other liquid fuels. Activities in this area are growing, e.g. via the introduction of novel light-harvesting nanostructures. 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 behaviour. Applied research at this scale is covered by the fields of nanotechnology and microtechnology (including microsystem technology, MST, micro electromechanical systems, MEMS, and microreaction technology).

The group is a very active user of the NanoLab clean room facilities and collaborates with many of the groups participating in the nanotechnology research institute MESA+, in particular with microfluidics colleagues in the group Soft Matter, Fluidics and Interfaces (SFI) lead by Rob Lammertink, photocatalysis colleagues in the group Photo-catalytic Fuel Synthesis (PCS) headed by GuidoMul, and nanofabrication colleagues in the group Molecular Nanofabrication headed by Jurriaan Huskens.

Main research themes

Latest news

MCS publishes in Energy & Environmental Science

MCS group contributes to a Perspective article in the highly popular journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Its title is The potential for microfluidics in electrochemical energy systems, and is the result of a collaboration with colleagues from EPFL, Laussane, Switzerland. ... read more

MCS papers published in Biosensors and Analytical Biochemistry

Two papers related to DNA analysis have recently been published by our group. ... read more

Micromachined 3D fractals were never easier

In a collaboration project with researchers from the University of Zaragoza (Spain), we have simplified the fabrication of our micromachined 3D fractal structures, eliminating the need of LPCVD silicon nitride and LOCOS. ... read more

MCS publishes paper in Langmuir

A new paper in collaboration with Physics of Fluids and The Hub for Antimicrobials Surfaces from University of Liverpool has been accepted in Langmuir. The work is focused on the evaporation of water droplets containing Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis). This research provides new insights into design criteria for the development of microstructured surfaces on which bacterial propagation can be controlled, limiting the use of bacterial biocides. ... read more