FHI welcomes new Humboldt Fellows

July 29, 2020
This summer, four new scientists will be joining the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society with a Fellowship for Postdoctoral Researchers by the Humboldt Foundation.

The Fritz Haber Institute has proudly hosted many Humboldt Fellows over the years, and warmly welcomes four new ones this summer. “It is always a great pleasure to work with such excellent scientists, and we are delighted that they were able to join us,” says Prof. Beatriz Roldán Cuenya, Director of the Interface Science Department, which hosts three of the new fellows. “We are especially pleased that, despite the unusual circumstances that even necessitated quarantine in some cases, their stay with us is now possible,” she adds, “under safe working conditions, of course.” Prof. Roldán Cuenya is also glad to see that her research field now attracts more young female scientists. “That is a good development for the natural sciences.”

Dr. Dorottya Hursán will join Prof. Roldán Cuenya’s group at the Department of Interface Science, where she will conduct research in the field of electrocatalysis. Dr. Hursán received her PhD in chemistry at the University of Szeged (Hungary) in February 2020. She will develop and characterize CO2 reduction catalysts to be employed in continuous flow-electrolyzers – an electrochemical method that can convert the greenhouse gas CO2 into transportation fuels and commodity chemicals. Dr. Dorottya Hursán has decided to spend her postdoctoral years at the FHI because of its unique research infrastructure where she can enrich her electrochemistry-based research skills with advanced materials characterization techniques. “The knowledge accumulated by the state-of-the-art in situ and operando characterization methods available at the Department of Interface Science will probably contribute to the industrialization of the CO2 reduction process, promoting the development of a sustainable energy system,” she explains, “that is an exciting field to work in.”

The second fellow to join Prof. Roldán Cuenya’s group is Dr. Chao Zhan, who received his PhD in Physical Chemistry from Xiamen University (China). In his doctoral dissertation, he studied the interaction between surface plasmons and molecules, including plasmon-enhanced Raman spectroscopy, plasmon-mediated chemical reactions and single-molecule plasmonic optical trapping. At the FHI, he will continue to use in situ Raman spectroscopy to unveil chemical reactions on surfaces. Similar to the work of Dr. Hursán, and many other researchers at the FHI for that matter, these methods also can help facilitate the electrochemical reduction of CO2, whereby the greenhouse gas is converted to sustainable energy sources. Dr. Chao Zhan chose to come to the FHI because of its state-of-the-art technical facilities and, he adds, “because of its world-leading expertise in surface science, thermal and electro catalysis as well as theory co-existing in one location.”

Dr. Aram Yoon will be joining Dr. See Wee Chee’s group in the department of Interface Science to study the behavior of size- and shape-controlled nanoparticle catalysts under electrochemical conditions using operando liquid electron microscopy. Dr. Yoon received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (USA). The goal of her research is to elucidate the relation between the structure of nanocrystals and their catalytic properties. “This has so far been unknown because we do not have information about the 'working structure' under reaction condition – which is why I aim to directly observe the dynamic structures of the nanocatalysts used in the CO2 reduction reaction.” She decided to join the Interface Science Department for its established capabilities in both catalyst synthesis and operando microscopic and spectroscopic characterization. 

The Department of Inorganic Chemistry welcomes Dr. Remi Dupuy, who obtained his PhD in 2019 at Sorbonne Université (France). He has joined the newly founded group of Dr. Hendrik Bluhm that studies processes and chemical reactions that occur specifically at the interface between aqueous solutions and air. Such processes are of great importance for atmospheric sciences, where the presence of aerosol droplets, and hence of aqueous-vapor interfaces, play major roles in most aspects of the chemical and physical evolution of the atmosphere. “One of the reasons I chose to come here is actually the ambitious and unique experimental project under development in Dr. Bluhm's group. We aim to create an experimental set-up that combines multiple challenging techniques at the same time. This kind of experiment does not exist anywhere else right now and will bring us a much more detailed picture of what is actually happening on the molecular scale at these interfaces,” Dr. Dupuy says. He is also looking forward to becoming part of the collaborative community across the different departments of the FHI. “That allows us to approach our research topics from different experimental angles and with much-needed theoretical insights”, he adds enthusiastically.

Every year, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation enables more than 2,000 researchers from all over the world to spend time conducting research in Germany. So far more than 30,000 fellowships have been awarded across all disciplines to researchers from more than 140 countries worldwide – including 55 Nobel Laureates. According to the latest rankings, the FHI hosts more Postdoctoral Humboldt Fellows than any other research institution outside of higher education.

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