Institute-wide Poster Session

May 06, 2022

In the last week of April, the whole Fritz-Haber-Institut came together for the first live poster session since the start of the pandemic to discuss the research undertaken during the last few years. We spoke to five researchers about their posters.

With 400 employees, the Fritz-Haber-Institut is one of the bigger Max-Planck-Institutes. Across the five departments – Interface Science, Theory, Physical Chemistry, Molecular Physics and Inorganic Chemistry – over a hundred scientists do research on a whole variety of topics. In the last week of April 2022, all departments organized poster sessions on campus to share and discuss research findings of the last few years. It was the first big event since the beginning of the pandemic, and a very welcome one. “The Fritz-Haber-Institut, like any research organization, thrives on the exchange of ideas. We are happy to be able to do this again – under safe conditions, of course”, say Prof. Martin Wolf, Managing Director of the institute.

During the poster session week, a total of 96 posters were presented all over campus. We asked one researcher from each department to tell us a little bit about their poster and talk about their research.

Hanna Türk is a PhD student in the Theory Department, where she works in the Operando evolution of battery materials and functional solid-solid interfaces group. In her poster, she shows that high-temperature electrolysis cells provide efficient and inexpensive energy storage in the form of green hydrogen. Atomistic simulations of their chemical active site allow the prediction of aging processes and possible strategies to extend the lifetime of the cells.

David Koshy is a relatively new PostDoc at the Fritz-Haber-Institut. He joined the Thin Films group in the Interface Science Department in December 2021. The Interface Science Department as a whole is interested in studying catalyst surfaces, which is typically challenging because of signal coming from the bulk of the material. In the case of infrared spectroscopy, one way to gain surface sensitivity is to use Surface Action Spectroscopy (SAS), a method developed here at the Fritz-Haber-Institute. David’s poster explains that SAS works by adsorbing a layer of inert ‘messenger’ atoms on a surface, and then measuring the desorption of these messengers as a function of the infrared energy which gives a spectrum inherently sensitive to surface vibrations. David’s current work is aimed at applying SAS to understand complex catalysts like doped carbons and metal oxides.

Clara Patricia Marshall started work as a Postdoc in the Catalysis with Oxides group at the Inorganic Chemistry Department in January 2020. Her work focuses on the synthesis development of metal oxides and zeotype catalysts for transforming CO2 into chemically valuable products such as short chain olefins. In order to do this, both materials need to work together in a tandem system under the same conditions, different from their conventional ones. Therefore, new materials need to be developed and their preparation methods must be well understood, to improve their activity.

Martín Ignacio Taccone came to Berlin almost two years ago as a Humboldt Fellow. He works as a PostDoc in the Infrared excitation of gas-phase molecules and clusters group in the Molecular Physics Department, where he focuses on vibrational spectroscopy of biomolecular ions and complexes embedded in Helium droplets. The conformation and structure of a particular molecule/ion relate directly to the vibrations of its atoms (vibrational modes). For that, infrared spectroscopy of an isolated ion is a powerful technique to determine their conformation and permit later to infer their function or role in another environment. Techniques that operate at room temperature often do not have enough resolution to allow to distinguish between very similar conformers. Because of that, Martín and his group investigate the ions in the gas phase at ultra-cold temperatures by embedding them in liquid Helium droplets, resulting in highly-resolved vibrational spectra.

Maximilian Frenzel is a 2nd-year PhD student in the THz Structural Dynamics group at the Physical Chemistry Department. He works on hybrid (organic-inorganic) perovskites, novel semiconductors that hold great promise as materials for the next generation of efficient and low-cost solar cells. By utilizing ultrashort laser pulses in the THz spectral range, he investigates whether specific vibrations of the crystal lattice lead to some type of protection mechanism for the generated electric charge carriers. This would explain the surprising efficiency of metal halide perovskite solar cells and could guide the design of future energy materials.

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