Doctorate for David Kordus

October 04, 2023

Today, David Kordus defended his doctoral thesis at Ruhr-Universität Bochum. He carried out research on structure and chemical state of catalysts for hydrogenation of carbon dioxide.

David Kordus made several very important contributions to the basic understanding of thermal catalytic processes related to the valorization and conversion of carbon dioxide into valuable chemicals such as methanol. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is one of the main greenhouse gases that are responsible for the anthropogenic climate change.

The main results of David Kordus’ thesis deal with the parameters that influence the activity and selectivity of copper-based nanocatalysts for the hydrogenation of CO2.

David Kordus revealed that highly active and selective methanol synthesis catalysts can be obtained when the two active components, copper (Cu) and zinc (Zn), are in intimate contact within the same nanoparticle core (i. e. CuZn bimetallic micellar nanoparticles).

Investigating the structure and chemical state of the catalyst under reaction condition is necessary to understand the unique interplay between these two components (Cu and ZnO), which is a key factor for the high activity of the current conventional industrial catalyst. Thus, David Kordus’ research paves the way for the optimization of industrial relevant catalysts.

“This is an excellent dissertation from an outstanding student who has been able to find creative solutions to difficult experimental challenges,” says his PhD supervisor, Prof. Dr. Beatriz Roldan Cuenya.

Within the last five years, David Kordus was able to publish five peer-review articles, two of them as first author, in high impact journals such as Nature Communications and the Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS). Additional three papers are currently in preparation.

David Kordus studied physics at Ruhr-Universität Bochum where he joined the group of Prof. Roldan Cuenya. During his PhD work, he extended his knowledge and expertise to new concepts in the interdisciplinary areas of solid-state chemistry and physical chemistry.

During the transition of the Roldan Group from Bochum to the FHI in Berlin, David Kordus played a pivotal role in re-stablishing all of the materials characterization capabilities. This included disassembling and re-building the department’s large multi-method ultrahigh vacuum systems, which are equipped with Near Ambient Pressure X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (NAP-XPS), Near Ambient Pressure Scanning Tunneling Microscopy (NAP-STM), Temperature Programmed Desorption (TPD), Infrared (IR) spectroscopy, high pressure cells, and preparation chambers. He was also involved in setting up the department’s new powder catalysis reactor laboratories.

David Kordus’ PhD studies, were ranging from the synthesis of model (well-defined) mono and bimetallic size and shape-controlled nanoparticles (e.g. CuZn, CuNi, CuGa, ZnO/Cu2O, their ex situ characterization with Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM)), X-Ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS), Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and their in situ and operando characterization via NAP-XPS, X-Ray Diffraction (XRD), Raman spectroscopy, Infrared spectroscopy and X-ray Absorption Spectroscopy (XAS).

David Kordus participated and even led, a number of national and international synchrotron beamtime trips related to NAP-XPS and XAS operando measurements targeting to unveil structure-composition-catalytic reactivity of bimetallic NPs. His strong solid-state physics background allowed him to extract very detailed information from the complex spectra recorded. His dissertation and defense were awarded the highest degree possible, i. e. summa cum laude.

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