Ph. D fellow

Updated: about 2 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 31 Jul 2022

Spatial compartmentalization of multiple active sites on arrays of interconnected hollow nanotubes for cascade catalysis

A PhD researcher position is open to work on a collaborative project involving three research

groups from IMCN/UCLouvain: the team of Sophie Demoustier-Champagne (expertise in

the synthesis and characterization of multifunctional nanotubes and nanowires), the team of

Sophie Hermans (expertise in inorganic nanoparticle synthesis and characterization and in

heterogeneous catalysis) and the team of Olivier Riant (expertise in transition metals

molecular chemistry and organometallic catalysis).

Project description

The development of multifunctional catalysts to perform a series of transformations

in a single reactor is being considered for chemical processes intensification. It allows

cascade reactions, hence lowering the number of unit operations, solvents and energy

consumption. Nanomaterials-based catalysts and, in particular hollow nanostructures, raise

increasing interest as they provide excellent catalyst supports or nanoreactors where active

sites can be localized in well-separated nano-compartments without impeding mass/heat

transfers. Consequently, they allow to separate incompatible catalytic species, leading to

orthogonal cascade catalysis. So far, much research efforts have addressed the synthesis

of spherical hollow objects. But the use of hollow nanomaterials with anisotropy and high

aspect ratio, such as nanotubes, is highly relevant. The synthesis of hollow non-spherical

materials remains, however, more challenging than spherical ones.

In this context, the overall project aims at elaborating 3D networks of functional

nanotubes decorated with multiple active sites applicable for (photo)-catalytic applications

pertinent to fine chemistry reactions. These new systems offer indeed unique opportunities

for catalytic applications. First, they allow to precisely localize several catalytic sites in or on

the surface of nanotubes. Second, these new nanostructured reactors can be obtained with

a great variety of composition such as oxides, metals and polymers. Moreover, the size and

geometrical arrangement of nanotubes can be tuned at will, and their walls can include

additional porosity to improve further mass transfers. Last but not least, free-standing

scaffolds based on fully interconnected hollow nanotubes allow to implement flow chemistry

and continuous processes.

More specifically, the hired PhD researcher will work on the elaboration and

characterization of 3D networks made of semiconductor and photo-active nanotubes

(e.g.: g-C3N4) of controlled sizes and porosity. These systems  will be further

integrated into flow-through reactors to perform photocatalytic tests under visible

light irradiation.

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