Welcome to my profile! I am an Assistant Professor contributing to the exciting field of electrochemical conversion and materials as part of the Dutch Electrochemical Conversion and Materials (ECCM) programme.
My research journey has been shaped by invaluable experiences and opportunities. During my postdoctoral work, I was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG), where I collaborated with the group of Prof. Heinz Frei at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). There, I delved into the fascinating field of artificial photosynthesis. This work allowed me to explore cutting-edge operando and in-situ spectroscopic techniques, unraveling the fundamental mechanisms governing electro- and photochemical reactions.
Prior to that, I completed my PhD at The Friedrich-Alexander University (FAU) of Erlangen-Nuremberg, under the mentorship of Prof. Dirk Guldi. My doctoral research centered around coupling molecular and quantum dot light absorbers, along with catalysts, to graphene for an in-depth investigation of charge transfer processes. My exposure to the world of nanomaterials and energy conversion led to my passion for sustainable research.
Throughout my academic career, I have embraced collaborative opportunities, including working within the joint program of the Energy Biosciences Institute at UC Berkeley and Shell. This experience allowed me to bridge interdisciplinary boundaries and explore innovative approaches to address real-world challenges in energy technologies.
As an enthusiastic educator, I find joy in mentoring and guiding the next generation of researchers. My commitment to teach curious minds and fostering a collaborative learning environment remains at the heart of my academic pursuits.
I am intrigued by the astounding capability of Nature in capturing sunlight and converting it into energy-rich biomass, surpassing our global annual energy consumption by more than sevenfold. This remarkable achievement raises questions about how such a complex process operates on such a grand scale. It is evident that Nature harnesses highly abundant resources, possesses regenerative capabilities, and demonstrates adaptability to various environments. To understand this accomplishment, we must delve into Nature's nanoscale building blocks that form intricate architectures, like chloroplasts, which seamlessly integrate incompatible catalytic environments while precisely controlling mass and charge transport on the nanometer length-scale. Such finely tuned nano-scale systems rely on ultrathin membranes that ensure the optimization of energy capture, transport, and conversion processes.
My research group is investigating the hierarchical integration of inorganic oxide-based catalysts, light absorbers, and membranes to create robust nano-scale photoreactors that can be combined to make macro-scale artificial leaves. Inspired by natural photosynthesis we identified 4 key aspects that are needed to make a nano-scale photoreactor:
- An ultrathin membrane of less than 5 nm acts a base for the integration of catalysts and light absorbers
- The membrane needs to be proton permeable and oxygen impermeable
- The oxidation catalyst and reduction catalyst needs to be on opposite sides of the membrane
- An electron transport chain, including the light absorber (Z-scheme) needs to be in place to enable electronic communication across the membrane.
Our goal is to develop ultrathin insulating oxides that are capable of permeating protons while blocking oxygen, and at the same time contain an electron transport chain that allows for electronic communication between catalysts and light absorber.
In addition, we devote our efforts towards studying the interfaces between different materials components to uncover the fundamental catalytic mechanism using operando and in-situ spectroscopic techniques.
Interface Science & Catalysis
Our research group studies chemical conversions using either renewable electricity (electrosynthesis) or sun light (artificial photosynthesis).
Our primary focus is on understanding the processes governing the chemical transformations of abundant feedstocks, such as H2O, CO2, and N2, at the catalyst-electrolyte interface. To achieve this, we employ cutting-edge time-resolved spectroscopy, which allows us to discern crucial reaction intermediates and kinetics. This deep understanding of the underlying mechanisms is pivotal in advancing our knowledge of catalytic processes and enhancing their efficiency.
A central aspect of our research revolves around the development of ultrathin catalyst coatings. These coatings serve as key components that effectively prevent undesirable side-reactions, granting us precise control over the kinetic transformations occurring at the catalyst-electrolyte interface. By gaining this control, we can significantly improve catalytic performance and product selectivity, thus advancing the frontier of sustainable chemical conversions.
Taking our investigations a step further, we hierarchically integrate catalysts, light absorbers, and membranes. This strategic design allows us to exert control over mass, ion, and charge transport at the nanometer length-scale. The synergistic effects of these integrated components result in enhanced catalytic activity and fine-tuned product selectivity, driving us closer to more scalable energy conversion processes.
Dalia C. Leon Chaparro (PhD candidate)
Ultrathin membranes for photo- and electrocatalytic applications
April 2021 (on-going)
funded through NWO Electrochemical Conversion & Materials (ECCM) Tenure Track grant
D. C. Leon Chaparro, D. M. Nguyen, C. Baeumer, G. Mul, G. Katsoukis, Elucidating proton and Oxygen conductivity across ultrathin amorphous Al2O3, in preparation.
Adam Vass (postdoc)
Gas phase Electrocatalysis for methane valorization using Electrochemical FT-IRRAS
August 2022 (on-going)
funded through NWO ECCM KICstart and NWO ECCM Tenure Track grant
Max Berkers (PhD candidate)
Robust and durable electrodes for the hydrogen-bromine redox flow battery
February 2021 (on-going)
funded through RELEASE consortium and part of a collaboration with Arnhem-based company Elestor
W.M. Berkers, G. Mul, Ultrathin silica protective electrode coatings for the hydrogen-bromine redox-flow battery, in preparation.
Nathália Tavares Costa (PhD candidate)
Catalytically Active Coatings for the Removal of Indoor Pollutants
February 2021 (on-going)
funded through Advanced Research Center - Chemical Building Blocks Consortium (ARC-CBBC)Nathália Tavares Costa, Annemarie Huijser, Georgios Katsoukis, Jitte Flapper, Guido Mul, Catalytically Active Coatings for the Removal of Indoor Pollutants, in preparation.
3. List of supervised master theses
Lukas Cino, Serge Lemay, Guido Mul, Dalia Leon Chaparro, Georgios Katsoukis, Li-mediated N2 electrochemical reduction to ammonia elucidated via rapid-scan FTIR spectroscopy, in preparation (January 2024).
Willem Looman, Arian Nijmeijer, Leon Lefferts, Aayan Banerjee, Georgios Katsoukis, Performance analysis of a new nano-cell design for high-throughput low-temperature electrolysis, June 2023.
Hilbert Heida, Mathieu Odijk, Guido Mul, Georgios Katsoukis, Rapid scan IR reflection-absorption spectroelectrochemistry to uncover the mechanism of electrochemical CO2 reduction on Cu, February 2023.
4. List of supervised bachelor theses
Jorik Bloemenkamp, Leon Lefferts, Aayan Banerjee, Georgios Katsoukis, Modelling High-Throughput Low-Temperature Electrolysis (HTLE) in a new cell design, July 2022.
UT Research Information System
Google Scholar Link
Together with dr. Marco Altomare, dr. Chris Baeumer, and dr. Georgios Katsoukis,
we would like to inform you of a new elective course: “Electrocatalysis: Materials and Spectroscopy,” starting in Q2B.
Our world’s energy supply and the current chemical industry is based on fossil fuels which have a large carbon footprint and negatively impact our climate and health. In the last decades, however, renewable electricity won through photovoltaic panels and wind turbines has become so cheap that chemical reactions can be driven using electrochemistry. Electrochemical processes will need to run as efficient as possible to become sustainable, which is why electrocatalysis is essential. Electrocatalysis plays a major role for example in electrochemical water splitting to make H2, and in the synthesis of chemicals and fuels utilizing atmospheric CO2 or N2 as feedstock.
Therefore, the success of the energy transition depends on the transformation of the global energy sector by the integration of sustainable electrocatalytic processes. Current and emerging electrochemical conversion processes, however, cannot be scaled-up sufficiently enough, because the materials used today are neither abundant, nor stable and efficient. But how do we find better materials?
This course provides fundamental knowledge on electrocatalysis, including materials, reaction pathways and spectroscopic characterization techniques that help understand and identify reaction mechanisms and key electrocatalyst design principles. We prepare students for performing research on electrocatalysis and electrochemical reactions, both in industry and academia.
Interested? You can find the content of the lectures in the Osiris Catalogue.
For any specific course-related questions you can contact dr. G. Katsoukis, the contact person for this course.
Please note that the course registration period for Quartile 2B is from 27 March 2023 up to and including 23 April 2023.