Energy conversion, storage and green biotechnology are challenging tasks in material science. At the faculty of chemistry we work in various directions touching the fields of battery materials, fuel cell development, photo- and electrocatalysts, solar cell, thermoelectrics and biotechnology. These fields have in common that material synthesis, characterization and optimization are mandatory to identify new material classes and address suitable properties. In interdisciplinary teams of Chemists, Physicists and Materials Scientists we focus our scientific efforts in complementary fields of interest.
Thermoelectricity (Nilges, Fässler) is one facet of energy conversion where effective, small gap semiconductors are used to convert a temperature gradient into a potential gradient. New concepts are under development (Nilges) to address and improve the role of Seebeck coefficient modulation as one key feature for the optimization of thermoelectric materials. Complex chalcogenides (Nilges) or clathrates (Fässler) are classes of compounds under development.
Effective energy storage and Electromobility are closely connected with the development of powerful electrode materials, electrolytes and additives on the material level, and the construction of half- and full cells, including safety issues on the system level. At the faculty of chemistry we perform materials synthesis (Fässler, Nilges, Gasteiger), and complement the detailed electrochemical characterization and optimization of battery cells and systems (Gasteiger) with quantitative materials modeling (Reuter).
Conversion of chemical in electrical energy can effectively be performed by modern fuel cells. Scientists are working on the development (Gasteiger) of new electro-catalysts for electrolysers and fuel cells. The development of noble metal free electro-catalyst materials for water electrolysers at intermediate temperatures (200-400°C) are subject of a collaboration between the partner universities TUM (Köhler) and DTU (Danish Technical University, Department of Energy, N. J. Bjerrum).
Semiconductors play a role in numerous energy related subjects like solar cells, data storage technology, or an energy-effective supply of light or charge carriers for chemical reactions. Zintl-type phases are prepared (Fässler) to be used as precursors for solar cell fabrication. Pnp-switching semiconductors (Nilges) are currently under development to act as alternative data storage materials. Charge localization and its effect on elementary chemical processes at the atomic level is investigated for oxide semiconductors, particularly with respect to their use as photo-catalysts or support materials for quantum magnets (Reuter).
The industrial biocatalysis (Brück) at the faculty of chemistry deals with the conversion of environmental biogenic waste by cracking in momomeric subunits followed by the transformation into valuable materials.
The fundamental aspects of industrially relevant catalyzed reactions with the aim to understand the reaction steps on the surface of solid catalysts on an elementary level are studied (Lercher). The combination of physical-chemical characterization and the detailed kinetic analysis of catalyzed reactions are used to design novel catalytic materials and processes. Reactions studied are the acid catalyzed activation, functionalization, and transformation of alkanes and alkenes, the hydrogenation and alkylation of aromatic molecules and the sustainable generation of clean energy sources through selective conversion of biogenous or fossil raw materials.