April 17, 2024


Production and characterization of novel CO2 reduction electrocatalysts based on bimetallic deposited clusters

Dr. Didier Grandjean / Prof. Peter Lievens


  • To deposit mass-selected bimetallic clusters, based on 3d-metals mixed with noble or post-transition metal, onto conducting supports
  • To characterize the mixed cluster structural and electronic properties ex situ by XPS /XAFS and in situ under CO2 electro-reduction with XAFS;
  • To measure the catalytic activity of cluster-modified electrodes by voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy in cells .

Expected Results

  • Identification of high-performance CO2 electro-reduction catalysts; detailed dynamic structural changes under reaction condition;
  • Understanding of the reaction mechanism in collaboration with theoretical modelling.


  • Catchy Outreaching Events

Planned Secondments

  • PSI for training on in situ XAFS;
  • VITO for fabrication of cluster decorated industrial electrodes;
  • BME for computational modelling of the electrocatalytic reactions of deposited clusters

Job Announcement

Doctoral Student / Early Stage Researcher

We are seeking the ESR 8 of our recently funded Marie Sklodowska Curie-ITN CATCHY project on the “Design, implementation and production upscaling of novel, high-performance, multimetallic cluster-based catalysts for CO2 hydrogenation and electroreduction”.

Candidates should have (or be about to obtain) a master degree in Chemistry, Physics or a closely related subject, be enthusiastic about experimental research, and ideally have a background in one or more of the following fields: physical chemistry, nanomaterial science, catalysis, electrochemistry, XAFS spectroscopy, electron microscopy. The successful candidate will have obtained excellent grades both in his/her Bachelor and Master degrees.

The ESR 8 at the Quantum Solid State Physics group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of KU Leuven will be in charge of the production and the characterization of series of mass-selected bi- and multimetallic clusters deposited on different substrates. This activity includes optimization and control of production (composition, size) and deposition (substrates) parameters using the UHV cluster deposition setup, as well as the cluster morphology (following cluster surface interaction) by means of scanning probe microscopy techniques (AFM and STM), XPS, SEM and TEM on selected samples.

He/She will participate to the X-ray absorption measurements at the Swiss Light Source at our PSI partner in Switzerland and at the ESRF synchrotron facility, Grenoble, France, and contribute to the analysis of the data. In parallel he/she will complete his investigation by testing the catalytic activity and selectivity of cluster-modified electrodes by voltammetry and impedance spectroscopy in cells. He/She will be trained on cluster decorated electrodes and theoretical modelling during three periods of 1-2 months of mobility (secondment) at our VITO and BME partners .

We offer a full time PhD position. A PhD at KU Leuven typically takes 4 years, where the contract is renewed yearly after positive evaluation. The starting date should ideally be September 2021, or before November 2021. For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Peter Lievens ( peter.lievens @ kuleuven.be).

Please check the employment conditions and apply online below before July 15th, 2021.