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Sammy Verbruggen

  • Research interest:The central research theme is solar photochemistry for energy and environmental applications.An important line of research in that regards is pllasmonic photocatalysis. By maintaining a holistic bottom-up approach, every aspect of this research theme is addressed. The main focus is on the fundamental level of surface science (catalyst synthesis, surface modification (coatings), morphological engineering, modeling of the light-matter interaction, etc.), but other aspects such as reactor design, activity testing, social and economic aspects are elaborately addressed as well. The main research goal is to boost the photocatalytic activity of metal oxide semiconductors by improving their solar light conversion efficiency and photon utilization capacity. One of the primary strategies is surface modification with plasmonic nanostructures. A thorough fundamental mechanistic understanding of these composite nanomaterials is key, and will in time lead to more performant applications.A second line of research involves the application of photocatalysis in various fields: air purification, degradation of soot / particulate matter, self-cleaning and super-hydrophilic surfaces, and photo-electrochemical cells that couple air purification to hydrogen gas production.
  • Disciplines:Optical properties and interactions with radiation, Surfaces, interfaces, 2D materials, Spectroscopic methods, Optical properties of materials, Physical chemistry of materials, Synthesis of materials, Surface and interface chemistry, Catalysis , Photochemistry, Nanofabrication, growth and self assembly, Nanomaterials, Nanophotonics, Nanoscale characterisation, Heterogeneous catalysis, Air pollution and control, Environmental technologies
  • Research techniques:SYNTHESIS- Porous semiconductor metal oxides (e.g. TiO2)- Nanoparticles (gold, silver, bimetallic, core-shell nanostructures,…)- Composite materials- Coating techniques: spin coating, dip coating, …CHARACTERIZATION- Spectroscopy: UV-VIS, DRS, FTIR (transmission, in-situ and ATR)- Absolute irradiance measurements- Dynamic viscosity- Profilometry (layer thickness through step measurement, and surface roughness)- Theoretical simulations of light-mater interaction- Contact Angle measurementsTESTING and DETECTION- Reactor design (flat bed, cylindrical (packed or not), spiral, photo-electrochemical cells)- Gas phase measurements in automated setup; ISO testing enabled- Degradation of soot / particulate matter through color detection- Analysis through in-line FTIR, VOC sensors, humidity sensors, GC-FID, GC-PDD for hydrogen gas, Quantum Cascade Laser for N-containing species
  • Users of research expertise:- Catalyst manufacturers- Companies interested in functionalization of surfaces (e.g. glass, concrete, facade cladding materials,...)- Companies and governments interested in air purification strategies- Other academic or industrial research facilities