The research group "Materials Chemistry" (MATCHEM) focuses on the synthesis, characterization and application of advanced functional materials. The group encompasses several expertise groups with specific and complementary expertise, closely collaborating and operating within the spearhead research domains of the Institute for Materials Research (IMO) of Hasselt University. The group is also linked to the IMEC associated laboratory 'imomec'. Main activities focus on
- new materials for energy generation and energy storage;
- life sciences materials;
- materials obtained from waste recycling.
The group regularly acts as partner in different European, Flemish, national and international research programs and networks and has a longstanding tradition in joint research and servicing with industry and research centers.
The expertise groups within MATCHEM are:
- Design & Synthesis of Organic Semiconductors (DSOS): Prof. dr. Wouter Maes.
The key competence of the group relates to the design, synthesis and (structural and optoelectronic) characterization of advanced organic semiconducting materials (polymers as well as smaller chromophores), with particular emphasis on the rationalization of structure-property relations, and their integration in optoelectronic devices (photovoltaics, photodetectors, light-emitting diodes, transistors, chemo/biosensors, ...) and theragnostic applications for personalized healthcare.
- Hybrid Materials Design (HyMaD): Prof. dr. Dirk Vanderzande, dr. Laurence Lutsen.
The group focuses on the design and synthesis of organic-inorganic hybrid materials with specific electro- optical properties and their application in the fields of solar cells, LEDs and detectors. Particular attention is paid to supramolecular interactions that result in the formation of nano-structured hybrid material systems that exhibit functionality in both the organic and inorganic components.
- Design and synthesis of inorganic materials (DESINe): Prof. dr. Marlies Van Bael and Prof. dr. An Hardy.
The main activity is the study of environmentally friendly, chemical methods for the synthesis of high-tech, nanostructured inorganic materials. Solution based synthesis routes, including aqueous and non-aqueous sol(ution)-gel methods, hydro/solvothermal routes, combustion synthesis, co-precipitation, thermal decomposition synthesis etc. are created for the preparation of functional inorganic nanomaterials. In the past two decades, their properties have ranged from superconducting, ferroelectric, piezoelectric, conductive and dielectric metal oxide powders and thin films, strategically important for future developments in nanoelectronics such as memories and sensors, besides solar cells. Most recently, main focus lies on oxide, metallic, polyanionic and sulfide materials for energy storage in batteries, energy efficiency as well as power to X. The applications include lithium ion, sodium ion and lithium sulphur batteries, thermochromic windows as well as CO2 reduction and hydrogen generation.
- Biomolecule Design Group (BDG): Prof. dr. Wanda Guedens, Prof. dr. Peter Adriaensens, dr. Geert-Jan Graulus.
The key competence of the group relates to the development of in vitro/vivo methods for a unique and site-specific functionalization of proteins. On the one hand, the research is focussed on the bioorthogonal and uniform conjugation of nanobodies to various constructs that pave the way towards improved biosensor, bioimaging and controlled drug release applications. On the other hand, biomimetic structural proteins are designed to enable the effective transplantation of (stem) cells in tissue engineering applications.
- Advanced Functional Polymer group (AFP): Prof. dr. Louis Pitet.
The AFP group focuses on the theme of sustainable polymer technology, with topics like polymers for health care (e.g. tissue engineering), synthesis of polymers in continuous flow setups (e.g. for manufacturing complex architectures), and polymer technology for a circular economy (e.g. polyester and polyamide waste stream upcycling). Contemporary synthetic tools are explored in a variety of contexts, pushing the boundaries of polymer technology for improved material properties, efficient synthetic protocols, or designed recyclability. The group strives to establish fundamental structure-property relationships in complex polymer scaffolds for advances in a variety of applications.
- Analytical and Circular Chemistry (ACC): Prof. dr. Wouter Marchal, Prof. dr. Dries Vandamme, Prof. dr. Peter Adriaensens, dr. Pieter Samyn.
The focus of the group lies on the design, development and application of suitable analytical strategies for material characterization in order to unravel advanced structure-functionality relationships by advanced and hyphenated physico-chemical techniques. The analytical toolbox is applied to explore processes relating to circular chemistry, including biomass and waste stream valorisation, green extraction and thermal conversion (pyrolysis), and water purification. In addition, environmental issues such as nanoparticle leaching, outgassing and carbon sequestration are addressed.
- Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR): Prof. dr. Peter Adriaensens.
The group focuses on the quantitative description of the structure, molecular dynamics and phase morphology of (polymer) materials by modern liquid and solid-state NMR spectroscopy and relaxometry experiments in order to elucidate macroscopic material properties. Expertise in NMR-metabolomics is also present and focuses on the search for metabolite markers for early diagnosis and therapy follow-up of (lung) cancer.