February 25, 2021

KU Leuven

KU Leuven is the largest university in Belgium in terms of research funding (EUR 475 million) and number of students. It is a charter member of LERU. KU Leuven is the first European University in the Reuters Top 100 of the World’s most innovative institutions and is currently ranked 48th in the Times Higher Education World Ranking. In H2020, KU Leuven is involved in 73 Innovative training networks, ranking KUL as first institution of higher education with regard to number of MSCA-ITNs. In addition, KUL hosts 47 MSCA Individual Fellows.

Quantum Solid State Physics division (QSP)

The Quantum Solid-state Physics (QSP) section of the Department of Physics and Astronomy is specialized in experimental research of the origin and tunability of functional electronic properties in systems with reduced dimensionality, including single-atom defects, nanoclusters, 2D materials, thin films, and 3D heterostructures. QSP operates a wide range of in-house facilities dedicated to thin film growth with extensive in-situ characterization, nanolithography and device fabrication, scanning-probe microscopy (SPM), and low-temperature transport and magnetization measurements.

Research Team

Within QSP, the research team of Ewald Janssens and Peter Lievens is specialized in the production and characterization of atomic clusters. Research programs range from fundamental studies of the physics and chemistry of individual small clusters in the gas phase using laser spectroscopy and mass spectrometry and on surfaces using scanning probe techniques, towards the production and in situ/Operando investigation with X-ray absorption spectroscopy (Didier Grandjean) of assemblies of size-selected clusters for sensing and catalytic applications. KUL-QSP will host ESR1 and ESR8.


QSP has four cluster setups equipped with dual laser vaporization cluster sources, sputter sources, and deposition facilities that allow to soft-land a beam of size-selected clusters on different type of surfaces or devices. Structural and composition characterization of surfaces on which clusters are adsorbed is possible by RBS, STM, AFM, SEM, and STEM. The reactivity of neutral and charged clusters can be studied in the gas phase using a low pressure collision cell and time-of-flight mass spectrometry. Reactivity of deposited clusters can be studied mass spectrometrically in flow tube reactors and structurally using in-situ EXAFS (extended x-ray absorption fine structure) spectroscopy at ESRF. Structural characterization of individual deposited clusters can be done using scanning probe microscopy and atom probe tomography.