Research

Organic Materials & Interfaces (OMI) is truly interdisciplinary group sharing common interests in tuning properties of the interfaces via smart modification. In this regard, we use electrochemical, synthetic, electrostatic or selfassembly properties of the modifier and underlying support. We are interested in both fundamental and applicable aspects of main areas of our research, which include:

Membranes – towards effective separation: we put great enthusiasm in finding smart and efficient ways to modify commercial membranes and improve their properties in term of selectivity towards target-compounds. Two separate projects are running, and they involve modification of 1) ceramic membrane for organic solvent nanofiltration 2) polymeric membrane for selective-phosphate removal and recovery. The latter is in strong collaboration with Fujifilm membrane development.

Biomimetic soft interface: we are focused on truly biomimetic platforms: (i) lipid bilayers and (ii) electrified liquid – liquid interface. Modification of the surface (silicon or metallic electrode) or the liquid – liquid interface with polyelectrolytes or self-assembling species emerge as a potential sensing, energy conversion or drug screening platforms.

Synthesis for energy conversion: great effort is made towards the synthesis of chromophore molecules that can absorb a major part of the solar spectrum. Such molecular assemblies can be then used as the interface modifier in order to induce photovoltage or to take the function of the super sensitizer in water-splitting catalysts.

Lab-on-Chip analytical devices: we use clean room facilities (Kavli Nanolab) for a bottom-up fabrication of miniaturized analytical systems for biomedical and environmental applications. Currently, our focus is on nanofluidic sensing devices with integrated electronics. We are interested in pushing the limits of these sensors from fundamental studies to real life applications.

Complex fluids, colloids and interfaces: interfaces between solids and complex fluids e.g. solutions of (combinations of) polymers, associative molecules and self-assembling molecular structures are crucial in a wide range of applications, ranging from paints to medicine, and from sensors to nano-composite materials. The focus of this research is to achieve control over these systems by resolving the mechanisms that determine their behaviour: ‘When you know how it works, you know how to get what you want’. We do this by making use of, and extending the fundamental concepts of the physical chemistry of soft matter systems.

Forensic chemistry and chemical visualizations: the visualisation and isolation of latent forensic traces is a challenge in the field of forensics. In collaboration with the Netherlands Forensic Institute, we investigate and develop novel visualization methods via interface modification (e.g. smart fingerprints or selective trace samples). Our attention is also paid to forensic sensor development with the ultimate application for on-site analysis.

Composite lithium-ion battery materials: composite materials of organic and inorganic origin are studied to obtain solutions for sustaining the mechanical and chemical behaviour of lithium-ion batteries during charging and discharging cycles. Within the research novel polymers are being developed to enhance the energy storage density, the power performance and lifetime of rechargeable batteries, based on the lithium air concept. The research is in cooperation between the OMI group and the Radiation Science and Technology department.