Clusters at the Solid-Liquid Interface (ECSTM)

Open PhD Position


Current catalytic challenges such as water splitting or carbon dioxide reduction might be driven in a material-efficient way when using size-selected clusters, due to their high surface area and size-specific properties. While size can control reactivity in gasphase reactions, much less in known on the reactivity in liquids. At the solid-liquid interface fascinating new questions arise: How does the solvation and the presence of adsorbates trigger the reaction and dissolution propensity at the atomic scale? Can we prepare size-selected cluster-assembled materials by combining advanced Inorganic Synthesis with highly-controlled deposition on structured supports? Can we play kinetic tricks to overcome thermodynamic stability limits?

In this project, we aim at understanding the physicochemical properties of clusters at the solid-liquid interface by a combination of local (Electrochemical Scanning Tunneling Microscopy, ECSTM) and integral methods (Rotating Disk Electrode, RDE). Hereby, we collaborate with leading synthetic and theoretical chemists.

The main goals of our work are:

  • Preparation of novel, size-controlled nanocluster structures and investigation of their stability and eventual dissolution properties
  • Electrochemical investigation of redox states and reactivity of cluster-assembled materials, at the local as well as at the integral scale
  • Implementation of ECSTM with enhanced time resolution
  • In-situ investigation of particle photoactivity

Laboratory and Scientists